Effect of Chronic Corticosterone-Induced Depression on Circadian Rhythms and Age-Related Phenotypes in Mice

Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2018 Dec 1;50(12):1236-1246. doi: 10.1093/abbs/gmy132.


Disrupted circadian rhythms are a recognized effect of depression, and our previous article demonstrated an association between depression and premature aging, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In the present study, we used a mouse model of chronic corticosterone (CORT)-treated depression to elucidate a mechanism by which depression may be associated with the circadian clock and mediate age-related phenotypes. Mice received a daily injection of 20 mg/kg CORT for 21 consecutive days, and the depression-like behaviors of mice were identified by the sucrose intake test, tail suspension test and open field test. Our findings indicated that CORT injection may be correlated with the circadian clock by impairing circadian rhythms or shifting the phase values of clock genes. We also showed that CORT-treated mice exhibited a significant gradual reduction in body weight gain with increased oxidative stress, including reduced activity of antioxidant-related enzymes, reduced glutathione:glutathione disulfide ratio and cytochrome (Cyt)-C level, and elevated reactive oxygen species content. Moreover, chronic CORT injection affected inflammatory responses, the production of mitochondrial ATP and telomere shortening, which may be associated with the Sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) signaling pathway. Additionally, chronic CORT injection disrupted the circadian rhythms of some indexes of aging phenotypes and altered the phase values of these indexes. Our findings suggest that psychologically stressful conditions such as depression are linked to changes in circadian rhythms and age-related phenotypes.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Circadian Clocks / genetics
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Corticosterone
  • Depression / chemically induced
  • Depression / genetics
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phenotype
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Telomere Shortening / genetics
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Corticosterone