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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Jun;28(6):1056-67. Epub 2003 Apr 2.

Effect of chronic administration of selective glucocorticoid receptor antagonists on the rat hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Section of Neuropsychopharmacology, Munich, Germany.


The effects of the selective glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonists ORG 34850, ORG 34116, and ORG 34517 on the rat hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system were investigated. To assess the potency of the compounds to occupy GR in the brain and pituitary, we applied a single acute subcutaneous (s.c.) injection (10 mg/kg). ORG 34517 was most potent to occupy GR in the anterior pituitary and distinct brain areas, whereas all compounds were unable to occupy mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). Chronic administration of ORG 34850, ORG 34116, and ORG 34517 (20 mg/kg/day) for 1, 3, and 5 weeks resulted only in minor changes in brain GR levels. However, profound increases of hippocampal MR were observed virtually at all time points. Treatment with ORG 34850 and ORG 34116 elicited episodic increases in HPA axis activity, whereas ORG 34517 did not cause any changes in HPA activity. Thus, the GR antagonists exert distinct effects on the HPA axis, which may be pertinent for the proposed antidepressant activity of these compounds.

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