Benzodiazepine receptor binding in vivo, as determined by the uptake of the high-affinity specific benzodiazepine receptor ligand [3H]Rol 5-1788, was examined following acute and chronic defeat stress in male mice aged 6 weeks, 7 months and 1 year. Specific uptake in 6-week-old mice was increased from control values only in the cerebellum following acute but not chronic stress. Specific uptake in the cortex and hypothalamus was unchanged from control values following both acute and chronic stress. Seven-month-old mice demonstrated an increased specific uptake in the cortex and cerebellum when measured immediately following both acute stress and the final session of chronic stress. This enhanced binding returned to baseline levels by 24 h after stress. One-year-old mice demonstrated no change in specific uptake when measured after acute stress, while binding was enhanced in all brain regions after the final session of chronic stress. This increased binding was still evident at 24 h after the cessation of chronic stress. Changes in benzodiazepine binding differ as a response to acute and chronic stress, and this response varies markedly with age.

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