Glucocorticoid negative feedback on the HPA axis in five inbred rat strains

Francisca Gómez, E. Ronald De Kloet, Antonio Armario

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    The aim of the present work was to study the influence of altering glucocorticoid negative feedback on both basal activity of the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and its response to acute stress (tail shock) in five inbred rat strains known to differ in some depression-like behaviors: Brown Norway (BN), Fischer 344 (F344), Lewis (Lew), spontaneously hypertensive (SHR), and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. Two complementary approaches were used: 1) enhancement of negative feedback by administration of 0.05 and 0.2 mg/kg dexamethasone (Dex) and 2) attenuation of negative feedback by pharmacological adrenalectomy (PhADX). The results indicate that 1) Lew rats consistently show adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone hyporesponsiveness to stress, 2) interstrain differences in the effect of Dex on the HPA axis were very weak and not related apparently to differences in the metabolism of the steroid, 3) the suppressive effect of the highest dose of Dex on basal corticosterone levels was lower in BN rats than in the other strains, and 4) after PhADX, an increase in ACTH levels was observed in response to acute stress in BN, F344, and WKY but not in Lew and SHR rats, suggesting possible interstrain differences in pituitary sensitivity to neural stimuli induced by stress. In summary, our results indicate that there are differences among the strains with regard to both 1) the suppressive effect of Dex on the HPA axis, BN rats showing a certain degree of resistance, and 2) the capability of PhADX rats to respond to acute stress, which suggests a defective release of ACTH in Lew and SHR rats. The biological meaning of these alterations of corticosteroid negative feedback among the five inbred strains studied remains to be established.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)R240-R247
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
    Issue number2 43-2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


    • Brown Norway rats
    • Fischer 344 rats
    • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
    • Lewis rats
    • Spontaneously hypertensive rats
    • Wistar-Kyoto rats


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