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Effects of maternal and sibling deprivation on basal and stress induced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal components in the infant rat.

  • Author(s): Avishai-Eliner, S
  • Yi, SJ
  • Newth, CJ
  • Baram, TZ
  • et al.

Prolonged maternal deprivation during early infancy increases basal- and stress-induced corticosterone (CORT) levels, but the underlying mechanism is not clear. In general, stressors activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, with secretion and compensatory synthesis of hypothalamic cortcotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). In the infant rat, we have demonstrated that maximally tolerated acute cold stress induced a robust elevation of plasma CORT throughout the first 2 postnatal weeks. However CRH messenger RNA (CRH-mRNA) abundance 4 h subsequent to cold stress was enhanced only in rats aged 9 days or older. This suggests a developmental regulation of the CRH component of the HPA-response to this stressor. The present study examined whether increased basal and cold stress-induced CORT levels after 24 h of maternal deprivation were due to enhanced CRH-mRNA abundance in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). CRH-mRNA abundance, and basal- and cold-induced plasma CORT levels were measured in maternally deprived 6 and 9-day-old pups compared to non-deprived controls. Maternal deprivation increased basal and cold-induced CORT levels on both 6 and 9-day-old rats. CRH-mRNA abundance in the PVN of deprived rats did not differ from that in non-deprived rats. Our results indicate that the enhanced basal and stress-induced plasma CORT observed after 24 h maternal deprivation is not due to increased CRH-mRNA abundance in the PVN.

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