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      Chronic Melatonin Treatment Counteracts Glucocorticoid-Induced Dysregulation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in the Rat

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          Abstract

          Transient exposure of rats to high doses of dexamethasone (DEX; 500 µg/day for 5 days) produced a host of symptoms that are indicative of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation, such as increased adrenocortical secretion over 24 h, blunted and prolonged secretory response to emotional stress, refractoriness of adrenocorticotropin in vitro release to stimulation with the secretagogues corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and vasopressin, decreased levels of mRNA encoding type II corticosteroid receptors in the hippocampus and increased numbers of transcripts encoding CRH in the paraventricular nucleus. Daily administration of melatonin (MEL; 80 µg/kg) concomitantly with, and for 5 days after discontinuation of, glucocorticoid treatment ‘normalized’ most of the symptoms of impaired HPA regulation caused by the exposure to DEX. While none of the treatments used caused major shifts in circadian patterns of corticosterone secretion, MEL administration was associated with diminished overall corticosterone secretion and increased sensitivity to glucocorticoid feedback. Taken together, these findings indicate that chronic MEL treatment may protect several regulatory components of the HPA axis from glucocorticoid-induced deterioration.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Regulation of pituitary ACTH secretion during chronic stress.

          Maintenance of adequate levels of response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis during chronic stress is important for survival. Three basic patterns of response can be identified depending on the type of stress: (a) desensitization of ACTH responses to the sustained stimulus, but hyperresponsiveness to a novel stress despite elevated plasma glucocorticoid levels, as occurs in physical-psychological paradigms; (b) no desensitization of ACTH response to the repeated stimulus and hyperresponsiveness to a novel stress, as occurs during repeated painful stress and insulin hypoglycemia; and (c) small and transient increases in ACTH, but sustained elevations of plasma corticosterone and diminished ACTH responses. The level of response of the pituitary corticotroph is determined by differential regulation of the hypothalamic regulators, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and vasopressin (VP), and the sensitivity of the negative glucocorticoid feedback. While osmotic stimulation increases VP expression in magnocellular neurons of the paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus, chronic stress paradigms with high pituitary responsiveness are associated with activation of CRH and CRH/VP parvicellular neurons of the PVN, predominantly of the VP-containing population. While moderate increase of CRH output is important for stimulation of POMC transcription, the increase of the VP:CRH secretion ratio appears to be important in maintaining the secretory capacity of the pituitary corticotroph during chronic stimulation. Decreased sensitivity of the glucocorticoid feedback, probably due to interaction of glucocorticoid receptors with transcription factors induced by CRH and VP, is critical for the maintenance of ACTH responses in the presence of elevated plasma glucocorticoid levels during chronic stress. Although both CRH and VP receptors are activated and undergo regulatory variations during chronic stress, only the changes in VP receptor levels are parallel to the changes in pituitary ACTH responsiveness. The inhibitory effect of chronic osmotic stimulation on ACTH secretion in spite of high circulating levels of VP is probably the result of diminished activity of parvicellular PVN neurons and downregulation of pituitary VP receptors. Although the exact interaction between regulatory factors and the molecular mechanisms controlling the sensitivity of the corticotroph during adaptation to chronic stress remain to be determined, it is clear that regulation of the proportional secretion of CRH and VP in the PVN, modulation of pituitary VP receptors, and the sensitivity to feedback inhibition play a critical role.
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            The neuronal mineralocorticoid receptor as a mediator of glucocorticoid response.

            The cloning of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) cDNAs provides a basis for understanding the actions of glucocorticoids in the central nervous system. Structural evidence is presented for the identity of the type I corticosteroid binding site as the MR expressed in the brain. This identification is supported by the anatomical distribution of MR mRNA, determined by in situ hybridization histochemistry, which parallels the steroid autoradiographic localization of the type I sites. An in vitro assay for MR and GR function demonstrates that these receptors respond to different levels of glucocorticoid, suggesting that together they confer a larger dynamic range of sensitivity to this hormone. These studies lead to a new hypothesis for glucocorticoid action in the central nervous system.
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              Genetic complementation of a glucocorticoid receptor deficiency by expression of cloned receptor cDNA.

              We isolated and sequenced 6.3 kb of cDNA encoding that rat glucocorticoid receptor, a protein that binds and activates a class of hormone-dependent transcriptional enhancers. Receptor-containing cells produce receptor mRNAs of approximately equal to 6.5 kb and approximately equal to 4.8 kb that differ only in their 3' nontranslated regions; an open reading frame of 795 amino acids resides within the 5' portion of the transcripts. The coding region was expressed in vitro, in transient transfections, and in stable transfectants of a receptor-deficient cell line. The protein products are indistinguishable from bona fide receptor with respect to sedimentation and electrophoretic mobility, antibody reactivity, and hormone and DNA binding. Moreover, the cloned receptor protein activates its corresponding enhancers, restoring to the receptor-deficient cells the full capacity for regulated enhancement.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NEN
                Neuroendocrinology
                10.1159/issn.0028-3835
                Neuroendocrinology
                S. Karger AG
                0028-3835
                1423-0194
                1998
                February 1998
                13 March 1998
                : 67
                : 2
                : 171-180
                Affiliations
                a Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction and b Institute of Physiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria; c Department of Neuroendocrinology, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute, Munich, and d Medical Research, Jenapharm, Jena, Germany
                Article
                54312 Neuroendocrinology 1998;67:171–180
                10.1159/000054312
                9630434
                © 1998 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 8, References: 76, Pages: 10
                Categories
                Corticotropin and Adrenal Regulation

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