The Characteristic Long-Term Upregulation of Hippocampal NF-κB Complex in PTSD-Like Behavioral Stress Response Is Normalized by High-Dose Corticosterone and Pyrrolidine Dithiocarbamate Administered Immediately after Exposure Academic Article uri icon


  • Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) is a ubiquitously expressed transcription factor for genes involved in cell survival, differentiation, inflammation, and growth. This study examined the role of NF-κB pathway in stress-induced PTSD-like behavioral response patterns in rats. Immunohistochemical technique was used to detect the expression of the NF-κB p50 and p65 subunits, I-κBα, p38, and phospho-p38 in the hippocampal subregions at 7 days after exposure to predator scent stress. Expression of p65 nuclear translocation was quantified by western blot as the level of NF-κB activation. The effects of intraperitoneally administered corticosterone or a selective NF-κB inhibitor (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC)) at 1 h post exposure on behavioral tests (elevated plus-maze and acoustic startle response) were evaluated 7 days later. Hippocampal expressions of those genes were subsequently evaluated. All data were analyzed in relation to individual behavior patterns. Extreme behavioral responder animals displayed significant upregulation of p50 and p65 with concomitant downregulation of I-κBα, p38, and phospho-p38 levels in hippocampal structures compared with minimal behavioral responders and controls. Immediate post-exposure treatment with high-dose corticosterone and PDTC significantly reduced prevalence rates of extreme responders and normalized the expression of those genes. Stress-induced upregulation of NF-κB complex in the hippocampus may contribute to the imbalance between what are normally precisely orchestrated and highly coordinated physiological and behavioral processes, thus associating it with stress-related disorders.

publication date

  • July 6, 2011