Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Exp Clin Endocrinol. 1989 Sep;94(1-2):23-42.

Sex-specific effects on the fetal neuroendocrine system during acute stress in late pregnancy of rat and the influence of a simultaneous treatment by tyrosine.

Author information

Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Humboldt University School of Medicine, Berlin, GDR.


It is well-known that prenatal chronic intermittent stress affects the reproductive system of both sexes. Investigating the effects of an acute maternal stress on the fetal neuroendocrine system, parameters such as hypothalamic catecholamines. CRF, GRF, LH-RH, beta-endorphin, hypophysial beta-endorphin and beta-LPH as well as plasma LH, corticosterone and androstenedione were measured. Pregnant rats of Wistar strain were exposed to restraint stress at day 22 of gestation or to forced immobilization at day 20 of gestation, respectively, and were sacrificed before stress and 10, 30, 60, and 120 min after starting stress. A decrease of fetal hypothalamic catecholamines and an increase of LH-RH content of the hypothalamus as well as of plasma catecholamines were observed under stress on day 22 of gestation. On day 20 of gestation hypothalamic beta-endorphin was depleted in male and unchanged in female fetuses under stress. A depletion of hypothalamic CRF was observed in male fetuses, whereas female fetuses showed an increase of hypothalamic CRF. An increase of GRF was found in fetuses of both sexes. Pituitary opioid content increased in fetuses of both sexes initially, but was depleted secondarily in male fetuses. The LH plasma level was markedly reduced in male, the corticosterone level was elevated in fetuses of both sexes as well as the androstenedione level in female fetuses. A simultaneous treatment of mother animals with tyrosine--a catecholamine precursor--prevented the depletion of hypothalamic and pituitary beta-endorphin as well as in part the reduction of plasma LH levels in male fetuses. Hypothalamic GRF content does not increase under tyrosine treatment in male fetuses, whereas in female fetuses the stress-induced increase of GRF content was rather pronounced under tyrosine than attenuated. These results indicate that fetal hypothalamic neurotransmitters and neurohormones (such as LH-RH, CRF, GRF and opioids) are involved in changing circulating hypophysial and adrenal hormones in fetuses exposed to maternal stress in late pregnancy, whereby sex-specific different pathways might be effective in fetal stress processing. The prenatal administration of tyrosine prevented at least in part--those neurohormonal changes which are affecting the sex-specific brain differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center