Effect of Acute Stress on Hippocampal Glutamate Levels and Spectrin Proteolysis in Young and Aged Rats

Martin T. Lowy, Lee Wittenberg, Bryan K. Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

172 Scopus citations


Abstract: Aging in rats is associated with a loss of hippocampal neurons, which may contribute to age‐related cognitive deficits. Several lines of evidence suggest that stress and glucocorticoids may contribute to age‐related declines in hippocampal neuronal number. Excitatory amino acids (EAAs) have been implicated in the glucocorticoid endangerment and stress‐induced morphological changes of hippocampal neurons of young rats. Previously, we have reported that acute immobilization stress can increase extracellular concentrations of the endogenous excitatory amino acid, glutamate, in the hippocampus. The present study examined the effect of an acute bout of immobilization stress on glutamate levels in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex of young (3–4‐month) and aged (22–24‐month) Fischer 344 rats. In addition, the effect of stress on spectrin proteolysis in these two brain regions was also examined. Spectrin is a cytoskeleton protein that contributes to neuronal integrity and proteolysis of this protein has been proposed as an important component of EAA‐induced neuronal death. There was no difference in basal glutamate levels between young and old rats in the hippocampus or medial prefrontal cortex. During the period of restraint stress a modest increase in glutamate levels in the hippocampus of young and aged rats was observed. After the termination of the stress procedure, hippocampal glutamate concentrations continued to rise in the aged rats, reaching a level approximately five times higher than the young rats, and remained elevated for at least 2 h after the termination of the stress. A similar pattern was also observed in the medial prefrontal cortex with an augmented post‐stress‐induced glutamate response observed in the aged rats. There was no increase in spectrin proteolysis in the hippocampus or medial prefrontal cortex of young or aged rats after stress or under basal nonstress conditions. The enhanced poststress glutamate response in the aged rats may contribute to the increased sensitivity of aged rats to neurotoxic insults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Glutamate
  • Spectrin
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of Acute Stress on Hippocampal Glutamate Levels and Spectrin Proteolysis in Young and Aged Rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this