Journal of Anatomy



Review

Glucocorticoids and the ageing hippocampus


CARINA HIBBERD a1, JOYCE L. W. YAU a1 and JONATHAN R. SECKL a1c1
a1 Molecular Medicine Centre, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK

Abstract

Approximately 30% of human and mammalian populations develop cognitive impairments with ageing. Many of these impairments have been linked to dysfunction of the hippocampus, a well studied area of the medial-temporal lobe, which is involved in episodic memory and control of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal stress axis and, thus, of glucocorticoid secretion. This paper reviews the growing body of studies which explore a possible relationship between lifetime exposure to glucocorticoids and hippocampal impairment. There is now strong evidence which associates hypercortisolemia in aged men with later cognitive dysfunction and this complements a wealth of rodent and other human data. We conclude with a discussion of possible pharmacological and behavioural interventions.

(Accepted June 16 2000)


Key Words: Hippocampal dysfunction; exposure to glucocorticoids.

Correspondence:
c1 Correspondence to Dr J. R. Seckl, Molecular Medicine Centre, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU.