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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1993 May;18(3):195-200.

Early, postnatal experience alters hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) mRNA, median eminence CRF content and stress-induced release in adult rats.

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Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA.


Rat pups 2-14 days of age were exposed daily to handling (15 min of separation from mother and home cage), maternal separation (MS; 180 min of comparable separation), or were left entirely undisturbed (non-handled; NH). As adults, MS rats showed increased hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) mRNA levels compared with NH rats, while CRF mRNA levels in H rats were significantly lower than either MS or NH animals. Hypothalamic CRF content under basal conditions followed exactly the same pattern. A 20-min period of restraint stress produced significant CRF depletion in all groups, although the percentage of depletion was significantly lower in H animals compared with either MS or NH animals. Restraint stress produced significantly higher increases in plasma corticosterone in MS and NH animals than in H animals. These data reflect the importance of early environmental factors in regulating the development of the hypothalamic CRF system and the responsiveness of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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