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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Feb;280(2):E260-9.

Involvement of the suprachiasmatic nucleus in diurnal ACTH and corticosterone responsiveness to stress.

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Interactions Fonctionnelles en Neuroendocrinologie, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Institut Fédératif Jean-Roche, Université de la Méditerranée, 13916 Marseille, France.


We explored the contribution of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in ACTH and corticosterone (CORT) diurnal responsiveness of the rat to restraint stress applied either in the morning (AM) or in the evening (PM). Ablation of the SCN caused the diurnal rhythmicity of the CORT response to disappear but had no effects on AM vs. PM differences in the ACTH response. Stress-response curves in SCN-lesioned rats that had prestress levels of CORT either in the AM range or in the PM range, when compared with those obtained for AM and PM controls, showed that the SCN differentially regulates the stress response depending on the underlying secretory activity of the adrenal cortex. When basal CORT secretion is at its lowest, the SCN inhibits CORT responsiveness to stress by controlling pituitary corticotrophs; but when it is at its highest, it has a permissive action that will bypass the hypophysis and reach the adrenals to adjust the response of the gland to ACTH.

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