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Neuroendocrinology. 1993 Jun;57(6):985-90.

Effect of different chronic intermittent stressors and acetyl-l-carnitine on hypothalamic beta-endorphin and GnRH and on plasma testosterone levels in male rats.

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Department of Endocrinology, Medical School of Wrocław, Poland.


Chronic stress affects the reproductive function by modifying the neuroendocrine homeostasis. The aim of the present study was to clarify the neuroendocrine and the gonadal changes following chronic intermittent stress in male rats and the action of a neuroactive drug, acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC). The effect of two different stressors, cold water swimming or ether, on central beta-endorphin (beta-EP) and GnRH contents, and on plasma testosterone levels was investigated. In addition, the response to an acute stress in chronically stressed rats, treated or untreated with ALC (10 mg/day/rat p.o.), was evaluated. The stressors were applied twice a day for 10 days, and rats were killed before, during and after the last stress session. Mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) beta-EP and GnRH contents, and plasma testosterone levels were evaluated by radioimmunoassay. The following results were obtained: (1) both chronic swimming and ether stress caused a decrease in hypothalamic beta-EP contents; (2) MBH GnRH contents increased after chronic swimming stress but not after ether stress; (3) chronic swimming stress induced a twofold decrease in plasma testosterone levels, while no changes were observed after ether stress; (4) the treatment with ALC prevented the decrease in plasma testosterone levels after chronic swimming stress, and (5) acute stress in chronically stressed animals caused an increase in MBH-beta-EP. The present data showed that chronic swimming stress reduces the reproductive capacity and impairs the capacity to respond to the acute stress and that ALC modulates the hormonal changes to physical stress and prevents the antireproductive effect of chronic cold swimming.

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