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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan;300(1):E19-27. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00224.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

Treatment with a CRH-R1 antagonist prevents stress-induced suppression of the central neural drive to the reproductive axis in female macaques.

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Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.


In response to everyday life stress, some individuals readily develop reproductive dysfunction (i.e., they are stress sensitive), whereas others are more stress resilient. When exposed to mild combined psychosocial plus metabolic stress (change in social environment plus reduced diet), female cynomolgus monkeys can be categorized as stress sensitive (SS; they rapidly become anovulatory in response to stress), medium stress resilient (MSR; they slowly become anovulatory in response to prolonged stress), or highly stress resilient (HSR; they maintain normal menstrual cycles in response to stress). Previously, we reported that monkeys that develop abnormal menstrual cycles following exposure to mild combined stress (MSR + SS) have increased plasma cortisol levels the day they move to a novel room and start a reduced diet compared with HSR monkeys. In this study, we examined whether there is a similar acute effect of mild combined stress on the reproductive axis specifically in the combined group of MSR + SS animals by measuring LH pulse frequency and whether treatment with a CRH-R1 antagonist can prevent a stress-induced suppression of LH pulse frequency presumably by inhibiting activity of the HPA axis. Animals that developed abnormal menstrual cycles in response to stress (MSR + SS monkeys) suppressed LH pulse frequency in response to stress exposure. Pretreatment with 10 mg/kg iv antalarmin prevented the stress-induced suppression of LH secretion in these animals without the stress-induced increase in cortisol secretion being blocked. We conclude that CRH, acting via nonneuroendocrine mechanisms to regulate neurotransmitter systems other than the HPA axis, plays a role in causing stress-induced reproductive impairment in stress-sensitive individuals.

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