Activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis of prenatally stressed male rats in experimental model of depression
Changes in activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis were examined in adult, prenatally stressed male rats in the experimental depression model of ‘learned helplessness’. It was shown that in males descending from intact mothers a depressive-like state was accompanied by an increase in activity of the entire HPA axis. Namely, expression of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) increased coupled to a rise in plasma levels of ACTH and corticosterone as well as in adrenal weight. At the same time, in males born to mothers who suffered stress during the last week of pregnancy a decrease was detected in activity both of the central (hypothalamus) and peripheral (adrenal cortex) parts of this regulatory hormonal axis, analogous to that we revealed previously in the ‘stress–restress’ experimental model. It is concluded that prenatal stress modifies the sensitivity of animals to inescapable intense stress impacts, as manifested in the specific pattern of HPA axis activity after stressing.
Keywordsdepression learned helplessness prenatal stress corticotropin-releasing hormone vasopressin ACTH corticosterone hypothalamus rat
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