The modifications in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function induced by repeated unavoidable stress exposure, according to a standardized procedure used for inducing an experimental model of depression, were studied. Rats exposed to this procedure show hyporeactivity to both pleasurable and aversive stimuli and this condition is antagonized by the repeated administration of classical antidepressant drugs. We also studied whether imipramine administration during stress exposure would interfere with the possible modifications in the HPA axis. Rats were exposed to a 4-week stress procedure with and without imipramine treatment and then tested for escape, as compared with non-stressed control animals. Twenty-four hours later all rats were bled through a tail nick for plasma corticosterone measurement before and after dexamethasone (10 microg/kg) or corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH, 1 microg/kg) administration. Rats were then killed, adrenals and thymus weighed, brain areas dissected out and frozen for glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRHR1) immunoblotting and for the assessment of hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone levels. RESULTS: Rats exposed to a 4-week unavoidable stress showed escape deficit and their basal plasma corticosterone levels were higher than those of control animals. Moreover, they had decreased response to dexamethasone administration, adrenal hypertrophy, and decreased GR expression in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, medial prefrontal cortex and pituitary. No significant modifications in CRHR1 expression were observed in the pituitary nor in different discrete brain areas. CRH levels in the hypothalamus and the plasma corticosterone response to CRH administration were found to be higher in stressed rats than in controls. Imipramine treatment offset all the behavioral and neurochemical stress-induced modifications. In conclusion, the present results strengthen the assumption that the escape/avoidance behavioral deficit induced by inescapable stress exposure is accompanied by steadily increased HPA activity, and that imipramine effect is strongly related to a normalization of HPA axis activity.
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|Titolo:||Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal modifications consequent to chronic stress exposure in an experimental model of depression in rats|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|