Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

First Advisor

Charles Hoeffer

Second Advisor

Alison Vigers

Third Advisor

Brian DeDecker



Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a form of age-related neurodegeneration that occurs sporadically and affects 5.4 million individuals in the United States alone. Individuals with Down Syndrome (DS) develop the neuropathology of AD, suggesting the overexpression of genes on chromosome 21, like Regulator of Calcineurin1 (RCAN1), play a role in AD. RCAN1 is under the control of a stress-response promoter, but it is unknown whether chronic stress (CS) causes an elevation in RCAN1 levels. Here we show a mild CS paradigm is successful at promoting increased anxiety and elevating stress hormone levels, through behavioral tests and glucocorticoid analysis. This is a first step in looking at CS and RCAN1 expression. Based on these findings we propose to test the idea CS causes elevated glucocorticoid levels and induces RCAN1 expression in the brain to increase.