Differences in the brain expression of c-fos mRNA after restraint stress in Lewis compared to Sprague-Dawley rats

Lenka Trnečková, Antonio Armario, Sixtus Hynie, Pavel Šída, Věra Klenerová

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In order to study the contribution of genetic factors to the pattern of stress-induced brain activation, we studied the expression of c-fos mRNA, a marker of neuronal activity, in male Sprague-Dawley and Lewis strains, the latter being known to have a deficient responsiveness of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Immobilization (IMO) alone or combined with the immersion into water at 21°C was applied for 15 or 60 min. The expression of c-fos mRNA was quantified by in situ hybridization in those brain areas that represent important parts of neuronal circuits activated by stress: medial prefrontal cortex, medial amygdala, lateral septum ventral part, paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and locus coeruleus. While in controls, c-fos mRNA was not detectable in tested brain areas, both types of stressors induced a strong expression of this immediate early gene. There were only small differences in c-fos mRNA expression related to the type of stressor or the length of exposure to them. However, there were remarkable differences in the expression between the two rat strains. When compared to Sprague-Dawley rats, Lewis rats showed a reduced c-fos mRNA expression after both stressors in most brain areas, which may be related to the reduced responsiveness of HPA axis and also with other abnormal responses in this strain. However, this hyporesponsiveness was not observed in all brain areas studied, suggesting that there is not a generalized defective c-fos response to stress in Lewis rats and that some responses to stress may be normal in this strain. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1077
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2006


  • c-Fos mRNA
  • Early immediate gene
  • Hybridization in situ
  • Lewis rat
  • Rat strain
  • Sprague-Dawley rat
  • Stress


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