Adaptation of the pituitary-adrenal axis to daily repeated forced swim exposure in rats is dependent on the temperature of water

Cristina Rabasa, Raul Delgado-Morales, Almudena Gomez-Roman, Roser Nadal, Antonio Armario

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Comparison of exposure to certain predominantly emotional stressors reveals a qualitatively similar neuroendocrine response profile as well as a reduction of physiological responses after daily repeated exposure (adaptation). However, particular physical components of the stressor may interfere with adaptation. As defective adaptation to stress can enhance the probability to develop pathologies, we studied in adult male rats (n 10/group) swimming behavior (struggling, immobility and mild swim) and physiological responses (ACTH, corticosterone and rectal temperature) to daily repeated exposure to forced swim (20 min, 13 d) at 25 or 36 -C (swim25 or swim36). Rats were repeatedly blood-sampled by tail-nick and hormones measured by radioimmunoassay. Some differences were observed between the two swim temperature groups after the first exposure to forced swim: (a) active behaviors were greater in swim25 than swim36 groups; (b) swim25 but not swim36 caused hypothermia; and (c) swim36 elicited the same ACTH response as swim25, but plasma corticosterone concentration was lower for swim36 at 30 min post-swim. After daily repeated exposure, adaptation in ACTH secretion was observed with swim36 already on day 4, whereas with swim25 adaptation was not observed until day 13 and was of lower magnitude. Nevertheless, after repeated exposure to swim25 a partial protection from hypothermia was observed and the two swim conditions resulted in progressive reduction of active behaviors. Thus, daily repeated swim at 25 -C impairs adaptation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis as compared to swim at 36 -C, supporting the hypothesis that certain physical components of predominantly emotional stressors can interfere with the process of adaptation. © 2013 Informa UK Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-705
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2013


  • ACTH
  • chronic stress
  • corticosterone
  • habituation
  • swimming behavior
  • swimming temperature


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