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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Studies of the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in sheep with hypothalamic-pituitary disconnection. I. Effect of an audiovisual stimulus and insulin-induced hypoglycemia.

These studies were undertaken to characterize the secretion of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), immunoreactive (ir) beta-endorphin (ir-beta-EP) and ir alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (ir-alpha-MSH) from the surgically isolated ovine pituitary in response to an audiovisual stress (barking dog, 3 min) and insulin hypoglycemia. The studies were performed in 4 ovariectomized, hypothalamo-pituitary-disconnected (HPD) and 4 sham-HPD ewes bearing indwelling jugular venous catheters. Basal concentrations of the three pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides and plasma cortisol were significantly increased in the HPD animals. When the control ewes were exposed to the audiovisual stimulus, plasma ACTH, ir-beta-EP and ir-alpha-MSH levels were increased 2.5-, 10-, and 5-fold 1 min after the stress; plasma cortisol attained maximal values at 5 min. In contrast, plasma levels of the three POMC peptides were not significantly increased in the HPD animals, although a rise in plasma cortisol occurred. The administration of regular insulin (5 units/kg i.v.) to control ewes caused plasma ACTH, ir-beta-EP, and ir-alpha-MSH levels to increase 17-, 22-, and 67-fold at 50 min; plasma cortisol values were maximal at 60 min. In contrast, the elevated basal levels of POMC peptides in the HPD animals were not significantly increased by the hypoglycemia, but a significant elevation of plasma cortisol was seen. We conclude that: (1) the increase in ACTH in intact animals after an audiovisual emotional stress and hypoglycemia, and the abolition of this increase by HPD, indicates that both stimuli, each acting through distinct neuroanatomical pathways, increase the net corticotropin-releasing activity of the hypothalamus; (2) the rise in plasma cortisol in HPD animals after stress suggests that peripheral humoral factors may release additional small amounts of ACTH from the anterior pituitary, and (3) the finding of increased basal ACTH levels after HPD suggests that POMC peptide synthesis and secretion by the anterior pituitary is tonically regulated by an inhibitory factor of hypothalamic origin.[1]


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