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Endocrinology. 1988 Apr;122(4):1337-42.

Constant corticosterone replacement normalizes basal adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) but permits sustained ACTH hypersecretion after stress in adrenalectomized rats.

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Department of Physiology, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco 94143.


To characterize further the effects of providing a constant corticosterone signal after bilateral adrenalectomy, we have compared the effects of bilateral adrenalectomy with no replacement (ADX) and with replacement with a corticosterone pellet implanted sc at surgery (B-PELLET) to those of sham-adrenalectomy (SHAM) on pituitary and plasma ACTH concentrations during the first 3 postoperative days. In ADX rats, plasma ACTH concentrations were elevated at all times compared to those in the SHAM group; pituitary ACTH content decreased during the first 12 h, then increased and was not different from that in the SHAM group thereafter. Replacement of corticosterone at the time of adrenal surgery in B-PELLET rats resulted in no differences in pituitary and plasma ACTH concentrations from SHAM values, suggesting that immediate steroid replacement prevents the major adrenalectomy-induced changes in central regulatory components governing basal activity of the adrenocortical system. Although B-PELLET rats had normal basal morning ACTH concentrations 5 days after surgery, they exhibited augmented and sustained ACTH responses to five different ACTH-releasing stimuli (injection, restraint, chlorpromazine, and, under pentobarbital anesthesia, morphine or sham adrenalectomy). The circulating corticosterone concentrations were maintained at relatively constant, low levels (3-6 micrograms/dl). Because these concentrations appear to restore basal morning ACTH concentrations to normal, but do not restore the ACTH response to stress to normal, we conclude that a different corticosterone signal is required to normalize stress-induced ACTH responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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