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Dev Psychobiol. 1990 Jul;23(5):395-410.

Endocrine responses to mother-infant separation in developing rats.

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Department of Pharmacology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, NC 27710.


Separation of neonatal rat pups from the dam have been reported to elicit two endocrine responses in the pup: a fall in growth hormone secretion and a rise in corticosterone secretion. However, the temporal, ontogenetic, and behavioral determinants of these responses have not been compared. In the present study, we report that these two responses can be differentiated on each of these criteria. Growth hormone secretion falls rapidly immediately upon separation of pups from the dam, while robust rises in corticosterone secretion are delayed for many hours. In addition, growth hormone responses are observed earlier in ontogeny. Finally, active maternal behavior is required for normal growth hormone secretion in 10-day-old rat pups, while passive sensory stimuli associated with the dam can significantly reduce the corticosterone response to separation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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