Elevated glucocorticoid alters the developmental dynamics of hypothalamic neurogenesis in zebrafish

Helen Eachus, Min-Kyeung Choi, Anna Tochwin, Johanna Kaspareit, May Ho, Soojin Ryu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to excess glucocorticoid (GC) during early development is implicated in adult dysfunctions. Reduced adult hippocampal neurogenesis is a well-known consequence of exposure to early life stress or elevated GC, however the effects on neurogenesis during development and effects on other brain regions are not well understood. Using an optogenetic zebrafish model, here we analyse the effects of GC exposure on neurogenesis during development in the whole brain. We identify that the hypothalamus is a highly GC-sensitive region where elevated GC causes precocious development. This is followed by failed maturation and early decline accompanied by impaired feeding, growth, and survival. In GC-exposed animals, the developmental trajectory of hypothalamic progenitor cells is strikingly altered, potentially mediated by direct regulation of transcription factors such as rx3 by GC. Our data provide cellular and molecular level insight into GC-induced alteration of the hypothalamic developmental trajectory, a process crucial for health across the life-course.

Original languageEnglish
Article number416
Number of pages14
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Early online date5 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Authors, 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Data Access Statement

All sequenced reads for RNA-seq were deposited in European Nucleotide Archive as part of our other study21 (ENA, PRJEB53713). The run accession IDs for the RNA-seq data reported in this study are: TU WT 6 dpf: ERR10476787 - ERR104767 91, star:bPAC positive 6 dpf: ERR10476 807 - ERR10476 811; TU WT 13 dpf: ERR104767 92 - ERR104767 96; star:bPAC positive 13 dpf: ERR10476 812 - ERR10476 816. Source data for figures are available in Supplementary data file 1. All other data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
The code used for bioinformatic analysis of the RNA sequencing data is available in an online methods repository79.


  • Animals
  • Glucocorticoids/pharmacology
  • Zebrafish
  • Hypothalamus
  • Neurogenesis/physiology
  • Hippocampus


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