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Life Sci. 2008 Nov 7;83(19-20):686-92. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

GABAergic mediation of stress-induced secretion of corticosterone and oxytocin, but not prolactin, by the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus.

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  • 1Departamento de Fisiologia, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900, 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto SP, Brazil.


The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) participates in mediating the response to stressful stimuli. Within the HPA, neurons in the medial parvocellular region of paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus integrate excitatory and inhibitory signals triggering secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), the main secretagogue of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Stressful situations alter CRH secretion as well as other hormones, including prolactin and oxytocin. Most inputs to the PVN are of local origin, half of which are GABAergic neurons, and both GABA-A and GABA-B receptors are present in the PVN. The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of GABA-A and GABA-B receptors in the PVN's control of stress-induced corticosterone, oxytocin and prolactin secretion. Rats were microinjected with saline or different doses (0.5, 5 and 50 pmol) of GABA-A (bicuculine) or GABA-B (phaclofen) antagonists in the PVN. Ten minutes later, they were subjected to a stressor (ether inhalation) and blood samples were collected 30 min before and 10, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after the stressful stimulus to measure hormone levels by radioimmunoassay. Our results indicate that GABA acts in the PVN to inhibit stress-induced corticosterone secretion via both its receptor subtypes, especially GABA-B. In contrast, GABA in the PVN stimulates oxytocin secretion through GABA-B receptors and does not alter prolactin secretion.

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