Sex differences in CRF1, CRF, and CRFBP expression in C57BL/6J mouse brain across the lifespan and in response to acute stress

Andrea Locci, Yan Yan, Guadalupe Rodriguez, Hongxin Dong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Signaling pathways mediated by corticotropin-releasing factor and its receptor 1 (CRF1) play a central role in stress responses. Dysfunction of the CRF system has been associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. However, dynamic changes in the CRF system during brain development and aging are not well investigated. In this study, we characterized CRF1, CRF, and corticotropin-releasing factor binding protein (CRFBP) expression in different brain regions in both male and female C57BL/6J mice from 1 to 18 months of age under basal conditions as well as after an acute 2-hr-restraint stress. We found that CRF and CRF1 levels tended to increase in the hippocampus and hypothalamus, and to decrease in the prefrontal cortex with aging, especially at 18 months of age, whereas CRFBP expression followed an opposite direction in these brain areas. We also observed area-specific sex differences in the expression of these three proteins. For example, CRF expression was lower in females than in males in all the brain regions examined except the prefrontal cortex. After acute stress, CRF and CRF1 were up-regulated at 1, 6, and 12 months of age, and down-regulated at 18 months of age. Females showed more robust changes compared to males of the same age. CRFBP expression either decreased or remained unchanged in most of the brain areas following acute stress. Our findings suggest that brain CRF1, CRF, and CRFBP expression changes dynamically across the lifespan and under stress condition in a sex- and regional-specific manner. Sex differences in the CRF system in response to stress may contribute to the etiology of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-959
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • CRF1
  • aging
  • corticotropin-releasing factor
  • sex differences
  • stressed mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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