Restraint stress and repeated corticotrophin-releasing factor receptor activation in the amygdala both increase amyloid-β precursor protein and amyloid-β peptide but have divergent effects on brain-derived neurotrophic factor and pre-synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex of rats

B. Ray, D. L. Gaskins, T. J. Sajdyk, J. P. Spence, S. D. Fitz, A. Shekhar, D. K. Lahiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Both environmental stress and anxiety may represent important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. Previous studies demonstrate that restraint stress is associated with increased amyloid beta (Aβ) and decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the brain. Aβ deposition, synaptic loss, and neurodegeneration define major hallmarks of AD, and BDNF is responsible for the maintenance of neurons. In contrast to restraint stress, repeated injections of sub-anxiogenic doses of the corticotrophin releasing factor receptor agonist urocortin1 (Ucn1) administered in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) of rats elicits persistent anxiety-like responses. We hypothesized that both restraint stress and Ucn1-induced anxiety would contribute to a neurobiological abnormality that would change the levels of Aβ precursor protein (APP) and Aβ as well as BDNF and pre-synaptic markers. In the first experiment, adult male Wister rats (n=5) were subjected to 3-h restraint, as compared to unstressed controls. In the second experiment, adult male Wistar rats (n=6) were subjected to sub-anxiogenic doses of Ucn1 (6 fmol/100 nl) administered in the BLA for 5 consecutive days, as compared to controls. Following each respective treatment, the social interaction (SI) test was performed to measure anxiety-like behavior. Protein studies were then conducted to quantify levels of APP, Aβ, BDNF and presynaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). In both experiments, we detected differences in either corticosterone levels or the SI test associated with a stress response. Furthermore, our findings indicate that both restraint stress and Ucn1 administration in the BLA lead to increased APP and Aβ deposition. However, restraint-induced stress leads to reductions in the levels of BDNF and presynaptic markers, while Ucn1-induced anxiety is associated with increases in the levels of each respective protein. This demonstrates a convergent role for stress response and Ucn1-induced anxiety in the regulation of APP and Aβ, but opposing roles for each respective treatment in the regulation of BDNF and presynaptic markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Jun 16 2011



  • Alzheimer
  • Amyloid
  • Anxiety
  • BDNF
  • Stress
  • Synaptic proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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