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      Glucocorticoid and Mineralocorticoid Receptors Are Involved in the Facilitation of Anxiety-Like Response Induced by Restraint

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          In previous studies, we have shown that male Wistar rats exposed to a single inescapable stressor session (15 min restraint) exhibited 24 h later an anxiogenic-like behavior in the elevated plus-maze (EPM), which was reversed by inhibition of corticosterone (CS) synthesis with metyrapone (75 mg/kg i.p.) 3 h before stress. Since CS binds to two central corticosteroid receptors, the mineralocorticoid (MR) and the glucocorticoid (GR) receptors, involvement of MR and GR in the modulation of anxiogenic responses was assessed in the EPM. Administration of the GR agonist dexamethasone (Dex, 1.25 µg/kg s.c.) to metyrapone-pretreated rats 1 h before restraint restored the anxiogenic-like response induced by the stressor. Removal of the adrenals also inhibited the anxiogenic-like effect, which was restored by either Dex (1.25 µg/kg s.c.), the MR agonist deoxycorticosterone (0.8 mg/kg s.c.) or CS, the common endogenous agonist of MR and GR (5 mg/kg s.c.) administered 1 h before stress. Intracerebroventricular infusion to intact animals 15 min before restraint of either a selective GR antagonist (A-GR, RU 38486, 100 ng/2 µl), a selective MR antagonist (A-MR, RU 28318, 100 ng/2 µl) or a combination of A-GR and A-MR (100 ng of each one/2 µl), abolished the stress-induced anxiogenic-like effect. The present findings indicate that both MR and GR are involved in the long-term CS modulation of the anxiety response induced by restraint. Both receptors mediate CS effects in an independent manner.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Ethopharmacological analysis of rat behavior on the elevated plus-maze.

          Behavioral categories were measured in rats left on an elevated plus-maze for 5 min, in addition to the traditional measures. Four independent factors emerged from a factor analysis. The variables that loaded highly and positively on Factor 1, seemingly related with anxiety, were: number of entries onto open arms, time spent on open arms, percentage of open/total arm entries, percentage of time on open arms, scanning over the edge of an open arm, and open arm end-exploring. The time spent on enclosed arms loaded highly, but negatively on the same factor. Risk-assessment from an enclosed arm also loaded negatively on Factor 1. Number of enclosed arm entries, total number of arm entries and rearing loaded highly on Factor 2, probably related to motor activity. However, the total number of entries also loaded on Factor 1, being thus a mixed index. Similarly, the number of open arm entries loaded on both Factors 1 and 2. As expected, the variables having high loads on Factor 1 were changed to one direction by administration of two anxiolytics (nitrazepam and midazolam) and to the opposite direction by two anxiogenic drugs (pentylenetetrazol and FG 7142). Such pattern of drug effects was not observed with the remaining variables.
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            Corticosterone enhances long-term retention in one-day-old chicks trained in a weak passive avoidance learning paradigm.

            Glucocorticoids are released during learning situations and can trigger neural actions through binding to receptors in different brain areas. The possible role of a glucocorticoid action in long-term memory formation was studied, in day-old chicks, by using a passive avoidance task which chicks otherwise only retain for a few hours (< 10) after training. Thus, we examined the effects of intracerebral corticosterone administration on retention 24 h posttraining. The results showed that chicks injected with corticosterone (1 microgram) at either 15 min pretraining or at 5, 30, 60 min (but not 120, 180, or 360 min) posttraining retained the passive avoidance response when tested 24 h posttraining. Studies with specific mineralocorticoid or glucocorticoid receptor antagonists (RU 28318 or RU 38486, respectively) indicated that this increase in retention by corticosterone might be mediated through glucocorticoid receptors. In order to assess whether the facilitatory effect of corticosterone was mediated through an effect on protein synthesis mechanisms, the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin was administered prior to corticosterone. However, this treatment only partially attenuated the effect of the steroid, suggesting that corticosterone may influence other cellular processes involved in the formation of long-term memory for the avoidance behaviour.
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              Corticotropin-releasing factor antagonist reduces emotionality in socially defeated rats via direct neurotropic action.

              Introduction of a socially naive male rat into the home territory of a resident counterpart results in agonistic interactions, leading to the rapid social defeat of the intruder. Exposure to the aggressive resident produces a stress-response profile consisting of neuroendocrine activation and coping behaviors such as submission. The present studies examined the dependence of these adaptive responses on endogenous brain Corticotropin-Releasing Factor (CRF), a peptide hormone known to coordinate neuronally mediated- and pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. The Elevated Plus-Maze was employed as an animal model of emotionality in which stressors reduce subsequent exploration of open maze arms without walls in favor of enclosed maze arms. A CRF antagonist, alpha-hel CRF9-41, administered intracerebroventricularly (5 and 25 micrograms i.c.v.) immediately post-stress and 5 min prior to maze testing reversed the heightened emotionality produced by the resident exposure stressor. This action paralleled that of an anxiolytic dose of the short-acting benzodiazepine, midazolam (1.5 mg/kg i.p.). Intra-amygdaloid administration of lower doses of the CRF antagonist (125, 250 and 500 ng i.c.) also reversed, dose-dependently, the effect of exposure to an aggressive resident without altering the behavior of unstressed control animals. Further, the enhanced release of ACTH and corticosterone following social conflict was not modified over the short term by the intra-amygdaloid dose of CRF antagonist (250 ng i.c.) which was effective in reversing stress-induced hyper-emotionality. These results suggest that limbic system CRF substrates exert an anxiogenic effect on the exploratory behavior of socially defeated rats via a pituitary-adrenal-independent mechanism.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                April 2001
                24 April 2001
                : 73
                : 4
                : 261-271
                Departamento de Farmacologia, Facultad de Ciencias Quimicas, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Ciudad Universitaria, Cordoba, Argentina
                54643 Neuroendocrinology 2001;73:261–271
                © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 3, References: 61, Pages: 11
                Hormones and Behaviour


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