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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Corticotropin-releasing hormone mediates the response to cold stress in the neonatal rat without compensatory enhancement of the peptide's gene expression.

  • Author(s): Yi, SJ
  • Baram, TZ
  • et al.

A variety of stressors activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, with secretion and compensatory enhanced synthesis of hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). Whether CRH is a major effector in the stress response of the neonatal rat and whether the peptide's gene expression is subsequently up-regulated are not fully understood. We studied the effect of cold-separation stress on plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels and CRH messenger RNA (CRH-mRNA) abundance in the paraventricular nucleus. Rats (4-16 days old) were subjected to maximal tolerated cold-separation. CORT and CRH-mRNA abundance were measured before and at several time points after stress. Cold-separation stress resulted in a significant plasma CORT increase in all age groups studied. This was abolished by the administration of an antiserum to CRH on both postnatal days 6 and 9. CRH-mRNA increased in rats aged 9 days or older, but not in 6-day-old rats, by 4 h after stress. These results suggest the presence of robust CRH-mediated adrenal responses to cold-separation stress in neonatal rats. Before postnatal day 9, however, the compensatory increase in CRH-mRNA abundance is minimal.

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