, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 157-169

At Least Three Neurotransmitter Systems Mediate a Stress-Induced Increase in c-fos mRNA in Different Rat Brain Areas

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1. Protooncogene c-fos mRNA levels were determined in the rat cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum after exposure to a combined forced swimming and confinement stress. The stress resulted in an increase in c-fos mRNA levels in all three brain areas.

2. In an effort to elucidate the neurotransmitter systems involved in this stress-induced increase, animals were injected, prior to exposure to the stress, with either diazepam, MK-801, or propranolol.

3. In both the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus the stress-induced increase in c-fos mRNA was inhibited by MK-801, suggesting that it is mediated via NMDA receptors. In the hippocampus, propranolol had a similar effect, indicating that β-adrenergic receptors are also involved in the stress-induced increase in c-fos mRNA.

4. On the other hand, the increase in c-fos mRNA produced by the stress of the injection was inhibited in the cerebral cortex by diazepam or propranolol and in the hippocampus only by diazepam. Furthermore, administration of MK-801 resulted in an increase in c-fos mRNA in the hippocampus of the nonstressed animals. In the cerebellum no one of the three drugs employed affected c-fos mRNA levels in either stressed or nonstressed animals.

5. Our results thus show that various forms of stress activate, in different brain areas, neurons with either NMDA, β-adrenergic, and/or GABA-A receptors.