Acute stress attenuates but does not abolish circadian rhythmicity of serum thyrotrophin and growth hormone in the rat

Octavi Martí, Amadeu Gavaldà, Trinidad Jolín, Antonio Armario

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    The effects of acute immobilization (IMO) on daily rhythms of corticosterone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and growth hormone (GH) were studied in adult male rats. Two hours of IMO increased serum corticosterone, this increase still being observed 3 h after finishing stress exposure. In the dark period corticosterone levels did not differ in control and IMO rats, but higher levels were observed again in the morning of the day after. Immobilization lowered serum GH and TSH levels throughout the 24-h period that followed exposure to the stressor. Such an effect was more marked in GH than in TSH. In addition, GH, but not TSH, levels were found to be reduced significantly by IMO at 08.30 h of the next day. Nonetheless, daily rhythms of GH and TSH were still persistent and roughly similar to those of control rats. The daily rhythm of food intake was measured in a separate experiment and it was observed, as expected, that IMO reduced food intake only in the dark period of the lighting cycle. It appears therefore unlikely that IMO-induced anorexia was the major factor responsible for the inhibition of GH and TSH caused by IMO at 11.00 and 19.00 h, considering that the amount of food intake was very low and similar in control and IMO rats during this period. However, anorexia might have contributed to inhibition of GH and TSH secretion afterwards. Thus, in a third experiment we studied the contribution of IMO-induced anorexia to the changes in hormone levels observed 24 h after stress by introducing a group of pair-fed rats. It was found that IMO, but not pair-feeding, reduced TSH levels, whereas a similar reduction of GH was found in the two conditions. It might be concluded that acute stress transiently altered corticosterone secretion, the only long-lasting effect being a slight increase in its morning levels on the following stress. Immobilization also causes an inhibition of GH and TSH secretion in the rat that persists for several hours after finalization of exposure to the stressor, but daily rhythms were still apparent. It appears that the contribution of stress-induced anorexia is different in GH than in TSH. In conclusion, an acute severe stressor such as IMO, although modifying circulating levels of some hormones, particularly in the hours following exposure to the stressor, did not appear to interfere greatly with the expression of circadian rhythms of anterior pituitary hormones.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)703-708
    JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996


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