Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in cognition and the effects of chronic stress. We have previously shown in mice that chronic adolescent treatment with corticosterone (CORT), to simulate stress, resulted in spatial memory deficits and markedly elevated levels of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunit NR2B in adult male BDNF heterozygous mice (BDNF+/-), but not in wildtype controls (WT) or females. The aim of the present study was to further characterize this ‘two hit’ model, including whether these effects are long-lasting. CORT treatment was delivered in the drinking water from 6 to 9 weeks of age. As previously demonstrated, male BDNF+/− mice treated with CORT presented with a deficit in spatial memory at 11 weeks of age. However, this deficit was not maintained at 15 weeks of age. Conversely, male WT treated with CORT developed a deficit only at 15 weeks of age. There were no significant gene-environment interactions in female mice at any time point. CORT treatment caused a modest, but significant increase in NR2B levels which was independent of genotype. These results show marked age-dependent and sex-dependent effects of CORT on behaviour which are different in BDNF+/− mice than in controls.
- Sex difference