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      Lesions of the posterior paraventricular thalamus block habituation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to repeated restraint.

      Journal of Neuroendocrinology

      Acute Disease, Animals, Chronic Disease, Habituation, Psychophysiologic, physiology, Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System, physiopathology, Male, Midline Thalamic Nuclei, Pituitary-Adrenal System, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Restraint, Physical, Stress, Physiological, etiology

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          Abstract

          We examined the role of the posterior division of the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (pPVTh) in habituation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) responses to repeated restraint. Habituation refers to the decrement in HPA activity that occurs with repeated exposure to the same or homotypic stressor. To date, the pPVTh has been shown to inhibit the enhanced or facilitated HPA responses to novel, heterotypic restraint in previously chronically cold stressed rats. We hypothesized that the pPVTh also inhibits HPA activity under conditions of habituation. In the first experiment, we lesioned the pPVTh and examined adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone responses to the first or eighth restraint exposure. In sham-lesioned rats, we found lower ACTH and corticosterone responses to the eighth period of 30 min restraint compared to the first exposure, evidence for habituation. In pPVTh-lesioned rats, there was no difference in ACTH and corticosterone responses to the eighth compared to the first restraint exposure. Therefore, pPVTh lesions prevented the habituation of HPA responses to repeated restraint. In the second experiment, we examined whether habituation to restraint is observable in response to an acute, single restraint on day 28 in sham and pPVTh lesioned rats that were exposed to restraint only on days 1 through 8. In this experiment, we replicated the results from the first experiment, and found evidence that habituation to restraint can be observed weeks after chronic stress has been terminated. Furthermore, pPVTh lesions had no additional effects on HPA responses to acute stress on day 28. In summary, pPVTh lesions inhibit habituation of HPA activity to a homotypic stressor, without altering HPA responses to the first restraint. Thus, the intact pPVTh inhibits HPA activity under conditions of habituation, as well as facilitation, and represents an important regulator of HPA activity under conditions of chronic stress.

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