The high- and low-avoidance animal (HAA and LAA respectively) strains of Hatano rats were originally selected and bred from Sprague-Dawley rats for their performance in the shuttle-box task. The present study focused on the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis of HAA and LAA rats in response to restraint stress. The restraint stress induced an elevation in plasma concentrations of ACTH, prolactin, corticosterone and progesterone. Peak levels of plasma ACTH during stress conditions were significantly higher in HAA rats than in LAA rats, while peak levels of prolactin were significantly lower in HAA rats than in LAA rats. Under stress conditions, ACTH and prolactin synthesis in the anterior pituitary glands was significantly higher in HAA rats compared with LAA rats. The peak plasma concentrations of corticosterone, during restraint stress, were significantly higher in LAA rats compared with HAA rats. These results indicate that the response of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis to acute restraint stress is greater in HAA rats than in LAA rats, whereas the ACTH-induced adrenal response of corticosterone release is higher in LAA rats than in HAA rats. On the other hand, prolactin secretory activity is higher in LAA rats compared with HAA rats. These differences in endocrine responses to stress may be involved in the regulation of the avoidance responses in the shuttle-box task.
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S Asai, R Ohta, M Shirota, G Watanabe, and K Taya
S Asai, R Ohta, M Shirota, A Tohei, G Watanabe, and K Taya
Hatano high-avoidance (HAA) and low-avoidance (LAA) animals were originally selected from Sprague-Dawley rats for good and poor active avoidance learning in a shuttle box. We studied the endocrinological profile in lactating rats to determine the effect of suckling during mid-lactation in HAA and LAA rats. The pups were separated from their mother rats 6 h before the onset of suckling and blood samples were drawn from unanaesthetized mother rats via a jugular cannula at 0, 5 and 15 min after the suckling stimulus and then 15, 45 and 105 min after pups were removed. Plasma concentrations of oxytocin in HAA rats were significantly higher than in LAA rats during the suckling period. Plasma concentrations of prolactin and ACTH in HAA rats were significantly higher than in LAA rats during the suckling period, and at 15 min and 45 min after the pups were removed. However, there were no strain differences in circulating corticosterone between the two lines, indicating that the response of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis to the suckling stimulus was greater in HAA rats than in LAA rats, whereas the ACTH-induced adrenal response of corticosterone release was higher in LAA rats than in HAA rats. Since dopamine from the median eminence inhibits prolactin secretion from the lactotrophs of the anterior pituitary, and tuberoinfundibular dopaminergic neurones are partially regulated by the level of circulating prolactin, we evaluated the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in dopamine biosynthesis. TH, measured by the accumulation of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, was significantly higher in HAA rats than in LAA rats before the suckling stimulus. After the suckling stimulus, TH activity in HAA rats was significantly lower than before suckling, whereas TH activity in LAA rats was not changed. These findings clearly demonstrated that apparent differences between the two Hatano lines exist in endocrinological profiles during suckling. These strain differences probably originate from neurotransmitter changes, such as dopamine.