Chronic mild social stress increases neurogenesis in adolescent male rats
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Once thought to occur only during specific periods of development, it is now clear that neurogenesis occurs in the rat hippocampus into adulthood. It is wellestablished that stress during adulthood decreases the rate of neurogenesis, but during adolescence, the effects of stress are much less understood. I investigated the effect of short-term or chronic stress during adolescence (daily lhr isolation and change of cage partner from postnatal day (PND) 30-32 or 30-45) on hippocampal neurogenesis. In experiment 1, rats were administered Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) daily on PND 30-32, or 46-48, to mark neurogenesis at the beginning of the stressor or after the stressor had ceased, respectively. Neither short-term nor chronic stress had an effect on proliferation or survival (evidenced by BrdU and Doublecortin (Dcx) immunohistochemistry respectively) of cells born at the beginning of the stress procedure. Compared to controls, BrdU-labeling showed chronic stress significantly increased proliferation of cells generated after the stressor had ceased, but survival of new neurons was not supported (Dcx-Iabeling). However, it may be that BrdU injections are inherently stressful. In experiment 2, the stressor (described above) was applied in the absence of BrdU injections. Ki67 (a marker of proliferation) showed that stress transiently increased cell proliferation. Dcx-Iabeling showed that stress also increased neuron survival into adulthood. Labeling with OX.,.42 (a marker of macro phages) suggested that the immune system plays a role in neurogenesis, as stress transiently decreased the number of activated microglia in the hippocampus. It can be concluded that in the adolescent male rat, chronic mild stress increases neurogenesis.