In this paper we asked if the different types of stress alter neuronal plasticity markers distinctively in the frontal cortex (FCx) and in the hippocampus (Hp). To do so, we implemented various stress regimens to analyse changes evoked in these rat brain structures.
We utilised several molecular techniques, including western blot, ELISA, quantitative RT-PCR, and various biochemical assays, to examine a range of proteins and subjected rats to behavioural tests to evaluate potential maladaptive alterations. A decrease in the level of growth factors in the FCx was accompanied by changes suggesting damage of this structure in the manner of regulated necrosis, while the Hp appeared to be protected. The observed changes in the brain region-specific alterations in neurotrophin processing may also depend on the period of life, in which an animal experiences stress and the duration of the stressful stimuli.
We conclude that chronic stress during pregnancy can result in serious alterations in the functioning of the FCx of the progeny, facilitating the development of depressive behaviour later in life. We also suggest that the altered energy metabolism may redirect pro-NGF/p75NTR/ATF2 signaling in the cortical neurons towards cellular death resembling regulated necrosis, rather than apoptosis.