Electroconvulsive treatment prevents chronic restraint stress-induced atrophy of the hippocampal formation—A stereological study

Johanne L. Alemu, Frederik Elberling, Bushra Azam, Bente Pakkenberg, Mikkel V. Olesen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Introduction: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one of the most efficient treatments of major depressive disorder (MDD), although the underlying neurobiology remains poorly understood. There is evidence that ECT and MDD exert opposing effects on the hippocampal formation with respect to volume and number of neurons. However, there has been a paucity of quantitative data in experimental models of ECT and MDD. Methods: Using design-based stereology, we have measured the effects of a stress-induced depression model (chronic restraint stress, CRS) and ECS on the morphology of the hippocampus by estimating the volume and total number of neurons in the hilus, CA1, and CA2/3, as well as in the entire hippocampus. Results: We find that CRS induces a significant decrease in volume exclusively of the hilus and that ECS (CRS + ECS) blocks this reduction. Furthermore, ECS alone does not change the volume or total number of neurons in the entire hippocampus or any hippocampal subdivision in our rat model.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01195
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number2
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell numbers
  • Chronic restraint stress
  • Electroconvulsive stimulation
  • Hippocampal volumes

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