Behavioural brain research

Long-term betamethasone 21-phosphate disodium treatment has distinct effects in CD1 and DBA/2 mice on animal behavior accompanied by opposite effects on neurogenesis.

PMID 25289489


One of the most peculiar characteristics of the stress response is the pronounced inter-individual and inter-strain variability both in behavioral and neurochemical outcomes. Several studies confirm that rodents belonging to the same or different strain and/or gender, when exposed to a stressor, may show behavioral and cognitive differences. We compared the effects of long-term betamethasone 21-phosphate disodium (BTM), a widely clinically used corticosteroid, on animal behavior and neurogenesis in CD1 and DBA/2 mice. BTM treatment, in CD1 mice, increased body weight gain and anxiety parameters while having pro-depressant effects. Furthermore, BTM significantly reduced neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Finally, BTM treatment induced a significant impairment in memory and learning performance in the Morris water maze. At odds, BTM administration, in DBA/2 mice, caused a significant reduction in the body weight while not modifying anxiety parameters. In addition, both an increased synaptogenesis and neurogenesis were found. Similarly to CD1 mice, also in DBA/2 mice, memory and learning were impaired. Our data confirm that long-term exposure to corticosteroids can generate or aggravate psychiatric/neurologic disorders such as depression, anxiety, memory and learning. Our study did not reveal significant differences between corticosterone and BTM treatment in CD1 mice. In contrast, BTM treatment in mice with an anxious phenotype (DBA/2 mice) revealed some contrasting results indicating that genetic factors can influence corticosteroids dependent effects. Finally, our data further underline the need for a re-evaluation of neurogenesis role; the increased neurogenesis observed in DBA/2 mice and behavioral effects might be distinguished phenomena.