, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 173-180

The involvement of noradrenergic ascending pathways in the stress-induced activation of ACTH and corticosterone secretions is dependent on the nature of stressors

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The aim of the present study was to explore in male rats the role of the catecholaminergic innervation of the hypothalamus in corticotropic and adrenal responses to different kinds of stress conditions. For this purpose, 6-hydroxydopamine (3 μg in 0.2 μl saline) was stereotaxically and bilaterally infused at two levels of the main noradrenergic ascending brain stem bundle (NAB-X). The efficiency of catecholaminergic denervation of the hypothalamus was checked by measuring noradrenaline concentrations in paraventricular nuclei punches by HPLC and was confirmed by a 86% fall in noradrenaline levels of NAB-X rats killed after the stress experiments. Seven days after lesioning the NAB, sham operated controls and NAB-X lesioned animals were divided into 4 groups and submitted to 4 different stressors, i.e.: 2 min ether vapors (n = 5), 1 h immobilization (n = 7), i.v. histamine (2 mg/kg; n = 7) or i.v. insuline (10 I.U./kg; n = 8) injections. ACTH and corticosterone were measured in blood samples sequentially taken from a chronic carotid cannula, before stress and at short intervals over the 2 following hours. In comparison to the respective control groups, NAB-X dramatically reduced the ACTH response to ether (-78%) and to restraint (-53%) stress whereas the corticosterone response was affected to a lesser extent. In contrast, NAB-X slightly altered these responses in the histamine-treated group, although, surprisingly, the ACTH response tended to decrease and that of corticosterone to increase. Finally, NAB-X provoked a biphasic response to insulineinduced hypoglycemia, with a very early (5 min) rise in ACTH and corticosterone in comparison to the control group, followed by a trend to low hormonal levels up to 120 min. These results strongly suggest a differential involvement of the hypothalamic noradrenergic innervation upon the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis according to the nature of stress conditions.