Effect of chronic stress during adolescence in prefrontal cortex structure and function

Otávio Augusto de Araújo Costa Folha, Carlomagno Pacheco Bahia, Gisele Priscila Soares de Aguiar, Anderson Manoel Herculano, Nicole Leite Galvão Coelho, Maria Bernardete Cordeiro de Sousa, Victor Kenji Medeiros Shiramizu, Ana Cecília de Menezes Galvão, Walther Augusto de Carvalho, Antonio Pereira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Critical periods of plasticity (CPPs) are defined by developmental intervals wherein neuronal circuits are most susceptible to environmental influences. The CPP of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls executive functions, extends up to early adulthood and, like other cortical areas, reflects the maturation of perineuronal nets (PNNs) surrounding the cell bodies of specialized inhibitory interneurons. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the effect of chronic stress on both structure and function of the adolescent's rat PFC. We subjected P28 rats to stressful situations for 7, 15 and 35 days and evaluated the spatial distribution of histochemically-labeled PNNs in both the Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MPFC) and the Orbitofrontal Cortex (OFC) and PFC-associated behavior as well. Chronic stress affects PFC development, slowing PNN maturation in both the (MPFC) and (OFC) while negatively affecting functions associated with these areas. We speculate upon the risks of prolonged exposure to stressful environments in human adolescents and the possibility of stunted development of executive functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Early online date24 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2017


  • chronic stress
  • critical period
  • perineuronal nets
  • plasticity
  • pre-frontal cortex


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