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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Developmental regulation of the brain polyamine-stress-response.

A transient increase in brain polyamine metabolism, termed the polyamine-stress-response is a common response to stressful stimuli. Previous studies have implicated an over-reactive polyamine response as a component of the maladaptive brain response to stressful events, and as a novel molecular mechanism involved in the pathophysiology of affective disorders. Ample evidence indicates that stressful experiences during early life can alter normal developmental processes and may result in pathophysiological and behavioral changes in the adult. Additionally, an important characteristic of affective disorders is their age dependency, a phenomenon that may be correlated with a maladaptive regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) neuroendocrine system. In the present study we measured the activities of the enzymes ornithine decarboxylase and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase as markers of polyamine synthesis and found that unlike adults, immature rats do not show the characteristic brain polyamine-stress-response. Instead of the characteristic increase observed in adults, ornithine decarboxylase activity in immature animals was reduced or remained unchanged (for up to 16 days of age) after a dexamethasone injection or restraint stress application. The ontogenesis of this ornithine decarboxylase response was brain region-specific, indicating its dependence on the stage of neuronal maturation. Animals treated with dexamethasone at 7 days of age, showed increased behavioral reactivity in the open-field test as adults and an attenuated increase in ornithine decarboxylase activity after a re-challenge with dexamethasone at age 60 days. The results indicate that: (1) the brain polyamine-stress-response is developmentally regulated and its ontogenesis is brain region-specific, indicating dependence on the stage of neuronal maturation; (2) the switch to a mature polyamine-stress-response pattern coincides with the cessation of the stress hyporesponsive period in the HPA system: (3) activation of the polyamine-stress-response, as in the mature brain, appears to be a constructive reaction, while its down-regulation, as in the developing brain, may be implicated in neuronal cell death; (4) an attenuated dexamethasone-induced increase in ornithine decarboxylase activity implicates an altered polyamine-stress-response in the maladaptive response of the brain to stressful events.[1]


  1. Developmental regulation of the brain polyamine-stress-response. Gilad, G.M., Gilad, V.H., Eliyayev, Y., Rabey, J.M. Int. J. Dev. Neurosci. (1998) [Pubmed]
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