Glial and neuronal glucocorticoid receptor immunoreactive cell populations in developing, adult, and aging brain

A. Cintra, M. Bhatnagar, G. Chadi, B. Tinner, J. Lindberg, J. A. Gustafsson, L. F. Agnati, K. Fuxe

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68 Scopus citations


A detailed mapping of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) immunoreactivity (IR) in rat CNS was performed employing a mouse monoclonal antibody against rat liver GR. Subjective comparisons were made between the present results and the available data in the literature. A semiquantitation of GR immunostaining was found necessary and was obtained by microdensitometric and morphometric techniques, which enabled the distinction of neuronal and glial cell populations containing GR IR in various CNS regions. GR IR in the CNS was mainly found in the nuclear compartment. The GR was present in neuronal populations with classical neurotransmitters, especially monoamines and glutamate and with various neuropeptides. The degree of colocalization varied according to the function of the brain area. Functional implications were made in relation to stress sensitivity, mood and nociception/antinociception. The global control of networks by glucocorticoids may allow an optimal integration of different types of circuits. The GR is found already in the fetal rat and the development of GR mRNA and receptor protein was followed during the pre- and postnatal periods. The GR appears to be a major factor in brain maturation and in modulation of stress responses. In aged Brown Norway rat brain GR IR but not mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) IR is reduced in the hippocampal nerve cells. The intensity of GR IR but not the number of nerve cells is altered, indicating a reduced activation of the GR in aging in this rat strain. Overall GR participates in neuronal plasticity from fetal and postnatal life to adult life and aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-61
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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