Immobilization and cold stress affect sympatho-adrenomedullary system and pituitary-adrenocortical axis of rats exposed to long-term isolation and crowding
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Changes in plasma levels of noradrenaline (NA), adrenaline (A), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone (CORT), as well as in cytosol glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and heat shock protein 70 (Hsp 70) in hippocampus of adult rat males exposed to two long-term types of psychosocial stress, both under basal conditions and in response to immobilization and cold as heterotypic additional stressor were studied. Long-term isolation produced a significant elevation of basal plasma ACTH and CORT levels, but did not affect that of NA and A. while long-term crowding conditions did not elevate the basal plasma levels of these hormones. Long-term isolation of rats exposed to 2 h of immobilization or cold led to a significant elevation of plasma NA, A and CORT in comparison with the controls. Long-term crowding conditions and exposure of animals to immobilization or cold also resulted in an increased plasma NA, A and CORT levels, but to a lesser extent in comparison with the long-term is...olation. At the same time, plasma ACTH was significantly more elevated in long-term crowded than in long-term isolated rats. Both kinds of long-term psychosocial stresses (isolation and crowding) had similar but less pronounced effects on cytosol GR and Hsp 70 concentrations in hippocampus comparing to acute immobilization and cold stress. It seems that long-term psychosocial stresses attenuate the effects of an additional stress on hippocampal GR and Hsp 70 concentrations. These data suggest that individual housing of rats appear to act as a stronger stressor than crowding conditions. When the animals suffering a long-term isolation were exposed to either acute immobilization or cold, a stronger activation of the sympatho-adrenomedullary system (SAS) was recorded in comparison with that found in the long-term crowded group subjected to short-term immobilization or cold. No significant differences in the activity of hypotalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis were observed between long-term isolated and long-term crowded rats. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.