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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1018:162-72.

Long-term effects of a single exposure to immobilization on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: neurobiologic mechanisms.

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Institut de Neurosciències, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.


In apparent contrast to previous results from other labs, we have found that a single exposure to a severe stressor such as immobilization (IMO) caused a long-term desensitization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response to the homotypic stressor. Because such HPA desensitization was not found in response to heterotypic stressors, it seemed at first that we were describing a habituation process already observed after a single experience with the stressor. However, a more detailed analysis revealed two main properties incompatible with the interpretation of the results in terms of habituation: (1) The intensity of desensitization increases over the course of days to weeks with no additional exposures to the stressor, and (2) the degree of desensitization was greater with more severe stressors. The long-term effects were also observed after a single exposure to a high dose of a systemic stressor such as endotoxin but not after insulin-induced hypoglycemia, suggesting that not all severe systemic stressors can induce such long-term desensitization. Because systemic stressors are known to be processed in specific brain areas and because we have found changes in c-fos mRNA response to the homotypic stressor in some brain areas as a consequence of previous experience with IMO, we hypothesize that some severe stressors do not induce long-term desensitization because they are not processed in brain areas sensitive to previous experience with the stressor. The neurochemical mechanisms involved in the induction of long-term effects on the HPA axis are in process, but our results suggest only a partial role of glucocorticoids and NMDA receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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