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      The rationale for corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor (CRH-R) antagonists to treat depression and anxiety

      Journal of Psychiatric Research

      Elsevier BV

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          Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress.

          Variations in maternal care affect the development of individual differences in neuroendocrine responses to stress in rats. As adults, the offspring of mothers that exhibited more licking and grooming of pups during the first 10 days of life showed reduced plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosterone responses to acute stress, increased hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor messenger RNA expression, enhanced glucocorticoid feedback sensitivity, and decreased levels of hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone messenger RNA. Each measure was significantly correlated with the frequency of maternal licking and grooming (all r's > -0.6). These findings suggest that maternal behavior serves to "program" hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress in the offspring.
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            A molecular and cellular theory of depression.

            Recent studies have begun to characterize the actions of stress and antidepressant treatments beyond the neurotransmitter and receptor level. This work has demonstrated that long-term antidepressant treatments result in the sustained activation of the cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate system in specific brain regions, including the increased function and expression of the transcription factor cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein. The activated cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate system leads to the regulation of specific target genes, including the increased expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in certain populations of neurons in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. The importance of these changes is highlighted by the discovery that stress can decrease the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and lead to atrophy of these same populations of stress-vulnerable hippocampal neurons. The possibility that the decreased size and impaired function of these neurons may be involved in depression is supported by recent clinical imaging studies, which demonstrate a decreased volume of certain brain structures. These findings constitute the framework for an updated molecular and cellular hypothesis of depression, which posits that stress-induced vulnerability and the therapeutic action of antidepressant treatments occur via intracellular mechanisms that decrease or increase, respectively, neurotrophic factors necessary for the survival and function of particular neurons. This hypothesis also explains how stress and other types of neuronal insult can lead to depression in vulnerable individuals and it outlines novel targets for the rational design of fundamentally new therapeutic agents.
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              Maternal care during infancy regulates the development of neural systems mediating the expression of fearfulness in the rat.

              The mothers of infant rats show individual differences in the frequency of licking/grooming and arched-back nursing (LG-ABN) of pups that contribute to the development of individual differences in behavioral responses to stress. As adults, the offspring of mothers that exhibited high levels of LG-ABN showed substantially reduced behavioral fearfulness in response to novelty compared with the offspring of low LG-ABN mothers. In addition, the adult offspring of the high LG-ABN mothers showed significantly (i) increased central benzodiazepine receptor density in the central, lateral, and basolateral nuclei of the amygdala as well as in the locus ceruleus, (ii) increased alpha2 adrenoreceptor density in the locus ceruleus, and (iii) decreased corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) receptor density in the locus ceruleus. The expression of fear and anxiety is regulated by a neural circuitry that includes the activation of ascending noradrenergic projections from the locus ceruleus to the forebrain structures. Considering the importance of the amygdala, notably the anxiogenic influence of CRH projections from the amygdala to the locus ceruleus, as well as the anxiolytic actions of benzodiazepines, for the expression of behavioral responses to stress, these findings suggest that maternal care during infancy serves to "program" behavioral responses to stress in the offspring by altering the development of the neural systems that mediate fearfulness.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Psychiatric Research
                Journal of Psychiatric Research
                Elsevier BV
                00223956
                May 1999
                May 1999
                : 33
                : 3
                : 181-214
                Article
                10.1016/S0022-3956(98)90056-5
                © 1999

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