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Physiol Behav. 1992 Aug;52(2):205-10.

Central and peripheral effects of repeated stress and high NaCl diet on neuropeptide Y.

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  • 1Unite de Neuroendocrinologie, Hospital Cantonal Universitaire, Geneva, Switzerland.


This study was performed to investigate the influence of repeated psychological stress alone or combined with high NaCl intake on the function of the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, NPY levels have been measured in brain regions of potential importance in the central regulation of stress responses (ventrolateral and dorsomedial medulla, paraventricular and arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, and frontal cortex). Normotensive Wistar rats received a standard diet alone or supplemented with NaCl. To accentuate differences in sodium balance, rats on the high NaCl diet (HNa) were uninephrectomized. Half the animals on each diet were subjected to chronic stress using daily sessions (1 h) of immobilization stress. After 12 days, plasma levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), norepinephrine (NE), and epinephrine (E) were measured basally and in response to acute footshock stress. HNa intake or chronic stress alone did not significantly alter either basal or stimulated plasma levels of NPY. However, combining the treatments produced a significant interaction, increasing the NPY response to footshock by 31% compared to HNa alone (p = 0.039) and by 98% compared to stress alone (p less than 0.001). Chronic stress increased basal levels of NE and enhanced the response to subsequent acute stress: combining the treatments did not yield further increases. Plasma levels of E were not significantly affected by the treatments. In the brain, stress alone had no effect on the NPY levels in the structures studied. HNa intake induced a significant increase in NPY levels of the arcuate nucleus, and produced a significant interaction with stress in the dorsomedial medulla. In a supplementary experiment, to evaluate the role of the autonomic nervous system in plasma NPY responses, treatment with the ganglion blocker hexamethonium was shown to significantly attenuate stress-induced changes in NPY, NE, and E.

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