We have previously shown that a single exposure of adult rats to a severe emotional stressor such as immobilization is able to exert a long-term desensitization of the response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to the same stimulus when applied days to weeks later. Surprisingly, the intensity of the effect increased with time elapsed between the two exposures, suggesting that we are dealing with a new type of stress-associated phenomenon. Taking into account the clinical importance of tolerance to endotoxin, in the present study we assessed whether a single exposure to an immunological stressor such as lipopolysaccharide can induce effects similar to those of immobilization. Rats injected with lipopolysaccharide (1 mg/kg) showed a reduction of the response of the corticotropin-releasing factor mRNA in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus after a new lipopolysaccharide injection 4, but not 2 weeks later. In an additional experiment using a different blood sampling procedure, adrenocorticotropin hormone, corticosterone and tumor necrosis factor-α responses were reduced approximately to the same extent by previous experience with lipopolysaccharide either 1 or 4 weeks before. Our data suggest that a previous single exposure to lipopolysaccharide induces a long-lasting tolerance of the HPA axis that likely involves some kind of learning-like brain plasticity. © 2002 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Corticotropin-releasing factor
- Endotoxin tolerance
- Paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus