Glucocorticoids and the ageing hippocampus
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.
c1 Correspondence to Dr J. R. Seckl, Molecular Medicine Centre, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU.