Neurochemical Research

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 917–929 | Cite as

Beneficial Effects of Physical Activity and Crocin Against Adolescent Stress Induced Anxiety or Depressive-Like Symptoms and Dendritic Morphology Remodeling in Prefrontal Cortex in Adult Male Rats

  • Mohadeseh Ghalandari-Shamami
  • Shahla Nourizade
  • Behpour Yousefi
  • Abbas Ali Vafaei
  • Roghayeh Pakdel
  • Ali Rashidy-PourEmail author
Original Paper


Increasing evidence suggests that exposure to chronic stress during adolescent period may lead to behavioral and neuronal morphology deficits in adulthood. This study examined whether crocin, the main active saffron constituent, and voluntary exercise, alone or combined, could prevent the detrimental influences of chronic restraint stress during adolescent (postnatal days, PND, 30–40) on behavioral and morphological deficits in adult (PND60) male rats. Results showed that plasma corticosterone levels increased at PND40, but not PND60 in stressed rats. Moreover, stressed rats demonstrated enhanced anxiety levels and depression like behaviors in adulthood. These behavioral abnormalities were accompanied by a decline in apical dendritic length in both infralimbic and prelimbic regions and dendritic branches in infralimbic region of the prefrontal cortex. Treatment with crocin, exposure to wheel running activity, and the combined interventions alleviated both behavioral and morphological deficits induced by adolescent stress. Moreover, these treatments exerted positive neuronal morphological effects in the prefrontal cortex in non-stressed animals. Our findings provide important evidences that exercise as a non-pharmacological intervention and crocin treatment during pre-pubertal period can protect against adolescent stress induced behavioral and morphological abnormalities in adulthood.


Adolescent stress Crocin Running wheel exercise Anxiety Depression Dendritic remodeling Prefrontal cortex 



This study was supported by a (Grant No. 984) from Semnan University of Medical Sciences (Semnan, Iran). In addition, Mrs. Mohadeseh Ghalandari carried out this work in partial project fulfillment of the requirements to obtain the Ph.D. in Physiology.

Author Contributions

MG-S and ARP designed the overall study and wrote the paper. MG-S, SN, BY, AAV conducted the research, collected data and carried out the lab work. MG-S and ARP carried out the statistical analysis and mostly drafted the manuscript. ARP coordinated and supervised the study. All authors approved the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest regarding this work.


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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohadeseh Ghalandari-Shamami
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shahla Nourizade
    • 2
  • Behpour Yousefi
    • 3
  • Abbas Ali Vafaei
    • 2
    • 4
  • Roghayeh Pakdel
    • 2
  • Ali Rashidy-Pour
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Student Research CommitteeSemnan University of Medical SciencesSemnanIran
  2. 2.Laboratory of Learning and Memory, Research Center of PhysiologySemnan University of Medical SciencesSemnanIran
  3. 3.Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of MedicineSemnan University of Medical SciencesSemnanIran
  4. 4.Department of Physiology, School of MedicineSemnan University of Medical SciencesSemnanIran

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