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Neural Plasticity
Volume 9, Issue 3, Pages 147-159

Chronic Restraint Stress Induces an Isoform-Specific Regulation on the Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule in the Hippocampus

Dept of Psychobiology, Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, Ciudad Universitaria s/n, Madrid 28040, Spain

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Existing evidence indicates that 21-days exposure of rats to restraint stress induces dendritic atrophy in pyramidal cells of the hippocampus. This phenomenon has been related to altered performance in hippocampal-dependent learning tasks. Prior studies have shown that hippocampal expression of cell adhesion molecules is modified by such stress treatment, with the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) decreasing and L1 increasing, their expression, at both the mRNA and protein levels. Given that NCAM comprises several isoforms, we investigated here whether chronic stress might differentially affect the expression of the three major isoforms (NCAM-120, NCAM-140, NCAM-180) in the hippocampus. In addition, as glucocorticoids have been implicated in the deleterious effects induced by chronic stress, we also evaluated plasma corticosterone levels and the hippocampal expression of the corticosteroid mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR). The results showed that the protein concentration of the NCAM-140 isoform decreased in the hippoampus of stressed rats. This effect was isoform-specific, because NCAM-120 and NCAM-180 levels were not significantly modified. In addition, whereas basal levels of plasma corticosterone tended to be increased, MR and GR concentrations were not significantly altered. Although possible changes in NCAM-120, NCAM-180 and corticosteroid receptors at earlier time points of the stress period cannot be ignored; this study suggests that a down-regulation of NCAM-140 might be implicated in the structural alterations consistently shown to be induced in the hippocampus by chronic stress exposure. As NCAM-140 is involved in cell-cell adhesion and neurite outgrowth, these findings suggest that this molecule might be one of the molecular mechanisms involved in the complex interactions among neurodegeneration-related events.