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Biol Cell. 1997 Dec;89(9):587-96.

Chronic melatonin treatment and the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat: attenuation of the secretory response to stress and effects on hypothalamic neuropeptide content and release.

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Department of Neuroendocrinology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria.


The pituitary-adrenal secretory response to acute and chronic stress, suppressibility of adrenocortical secretions by exogenous glucocorticoids, and hypothalamic content and in vitro release of the two major peptidergic activators of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine-vasopressin (AVP), were examined in rats receiving daily melatonin (MEL) injections coincident with the circadian increment of endogenous pineal and adrenocortical secretory activity. After 7 days of MEL administration, the rats displayed a significant attenuation of the adrenocortical secretory response to acute and chronic stress. Chronic MEL treatment also prevented the decline in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) release resulting from chronic stress exposure. Hypothalamic CRH content was significantly lower in rats receiving MEL treatment, while AVP remained largely unaltered; however, MEL administration counteracted the chronic stress-induced decrease in hypothalamic AVP content and in vitro release. When exposed to dexamethasone in vitro, hypothalamic explants from MEL-treated rats responded with a stronger suppression of CRH and AVP release than those originating from vehicle-injected animals. These observations indicate that MEL attenuates the adrenocortical response to stress and influences the biosynthesis, release and glucocorticoid responsiveness of hypothalamic ACTH secretagogues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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