Activation of rat pituitary-adrenocortical and sympatho-adrenomedullary system in response to different stressors.

OBJECTIVE: The effects of three different long-term (21 days) stresses: isolation(LTI), forced swimming (LTS) and isolation accompanied by forced swimming (LTI+LTS) on the level of plasma noradrenaline (NA), adrenaline (A), corticosterone (CORT) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), both under basal conditions and in response to short-term immobilization and cold as heterotypic additional stressors, were compared.

METHODS: Plasma NA and A were assayed by the radioenzymatic method. Plasma CORT was measured using RIA kits. Plasma ACTH was determined by chemiluminescent method.

RESULTS: LTI produced a significant elevation of basal plasma CORT and ACTH, while basal plasma NA and A concentrations remained unchanged. Combination of long-term isolation and forced swimming, produced a significant elevation of basal plasma ACTH content only, while LTS did not influence the basal level of this hormone. When LTI rats were exposed to immobilization and cold, a significant elevation of plasma NA and A level was recorded. In LTS and LTI+LTS groups of rats exposed to immobilization or cold, increased plasma NA and A levels were observed, but this increase was lower in comparison with that found in LTI rats. No difference in plasma CORT content between the three long-term stressed groups of animals was observed, while plasma ACTH level was significantly more elevated in LTS and LTI+LTS than in LTI rats.

CONCLUSION: Based on these results, it may be concluded that LTI as a psychosocial stress represents a stronger stressor than LTS. Also, daily short-term (15 min, 21 days) swimming stress seems to attenuate the effect of long-term isolation on the activity of sympatho-adrenomedullary system.

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