Modulation of fibroblast growth factor-2 by stress and corticosteroids: From developmental events to adult brain plasticity

Raffaella Molteni, Fabio Fumagalli, Valerio Magnaghi, Mila Roceri, Massimo Gennarelli, Giorgio Racagni, Roberto C. Melcangi, Marco A. Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurotrophic factors are a heterogeneous group of peptides that play important roles on brain function at different development stages. Basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2), one of these molecules, is highly expressed in developing and adult brain. Its expression can be regulated under different experimental situations and this may be relevant for cellular vulnerability and brain plasticity. Stress and glucocorticoid hormones produce short- and long-term effects on brain function, which can involve the regulation of specific neurotrophic factors within selected brain structures. Treatments with corticosterone or dexamethasone up-regulate FGF-2 expression in different rat brain regions as well as in cultured astroglial cells. A similar elevation of FGF-2 biosynthesis is also observed in several brain regions following an acute restraint stress. This response is rapid and transient and, as FGF-2 is neuroprotective, may represent a defense mechanism through which the brain may limit the deleterious effect of stress over time. Moreover exposure to corticosterone during late stage of embryonic life (E18-E20) produces a significant reduction of FGF-2 mRNA levels in the adult hippocampus of male rats as well as changes in its acute modulation in response to stress or corticosterone. These data suggest that stress-related events taking place during brain maturation can modulate the expression of FGF-2 within selected brain regions thus contributing to permanent structural and functional alterations leading to an increased vulnerability to challenging life events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research Reviews
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Brain vulnerability
  • Neurotrophic factor
  • Psychiatric disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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