Although growth associated protein-43 (GAP-43) is known to play a significant role in the regulation of axonal growth and the formation of new neuronal connections in the hippocampus, there is only a few studies on the effects of acute stress on GAP-43 mRNA expression in the hippocampus. Moreover, the effects of repeated citalopram treatment on chronic mild stress (CMS)-induced changes in GAP-43 mRNA expression in the hippocampus have not been explored before. To explore this question, male rats were exposed to acute immobilization stress or CMS. Also, citalopram was given prior to stress everyday during CMS procedures. Acute immobilization stress significantly increased GAP-43 mRNA expression in all subfields of the hippocampus, while CMS significantly decreased GAP-43 mRNA expression in the dentate granule cell layer (GCL). Repeated citalopram treatment decreased GAP-43 mRNA expression in the GCL compared with unstressed controls, but this decrease was not further potentiated by CMS exposure. Similar decreases in GAP-43 mRNA expression were observed in CA1, CA3 and CA4 areas of the hippocampus only after repeated citalopram treatment in CMS-exposed rats. This result indicates that GAP-43 mRNA expression in the hippocampus may differently respond to acute and chronic stress, and that repeated citalopram treatment does not change CMS-induced decreases in GAP-43 mRNA expression in the GCL.
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