Basic and clinical studies have reported that behavioral stress worsens the pathology of Alzheimer disease (AD), but the underlying mechanism has not been clearly understood. In this study, we determined the mechanism by which behavioral stress affects the pathogenesis of AD using Tg-APPswe/PS1dE9 mice, a murine model of AD. Tg-APPswe/PS1dE9 mice that were restrained for 2h daily for 16 consecutive days (2-h/16-day stress) from 6.5months of age had significantly increased Aβ(1-42) levels and plaque deposition in the brain. The 2-h/16-day stress increased oxidative stress and induced mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain. Treatment with glucocorticoid (corticosterone) and Aβ in SH-SY5Y cells increased the expression of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (ABAD), mitochondrial dysfunction, and levels of ROS, whereas blockade of ABAD expression by siRNA-ABAD in SH-SY5Y cells suppressed glucocorticoid-enhanced mitochondrial dysfunction and ROS accumulation. The 2-h/16-day stress up-regulated ABAD expression in mitochondria in the brain of Tg-APPswe/PS1dE9 mice. Moreover, all visible Aβ plaques were costained with anti-ABAD in the brains of Tg-APPswe/PS1dE9 mice. Together, these results suggest that behavioral stress aggravates plaque pathology and mitochondrial dysfunction via up-regulation of ABAD in the brain of a mouse model of AD.
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