The hormonal response to stress is enhanced by oestrogen but inhibited by androgens. To determine underlying changes in activity of neuropeptide neurones in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN), we examined the effect of oestrogen and androgen treatment on restraint-induced c-fos mRNA, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) heteronuclear RNA, and arginine vasopressin hnRNA expression in the PVN. Male rats were gonadectomized and injected with oestradiol benzoate (EB) or dihydrotestosterone propionate (DHTP; s.c., daily for 4 days). Rats were stressed by restraint for 10 min or 30 min before killing. Other rats were stressed for 30 min and then returned to their home cage for 20 min before killing. Corticosterone and adrenocorticotropic hormone responses to restraint stress were significantly greater in EB-treated rats and lower in DHTP-treated rats at the 30-min timepoint compared to controls. c-fos mRNA increases following stress were augmented by EB but inhibited by DHTP. CRH hnRNA expression increased significantly in the PVN in response to restraint stress, and this increase was augmented by EB treatment, but decreased by DHTP treatment. Vasopressin hnRNA expression was also increased in response to stress, and this increase was attenuated by DHTP. These findings indicate that gonadal hormones influence the reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis to stress.
- HPA axis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience