Gonadal steroids modulate activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) following stress, but the regulatory pathways of this modulation are unknown. A possible site of action is the synthesis of CRH and/or enkephalin in cells of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). To investigate this possibility, we utilized two stressors, i.p. hypertonic saline injection (HSI) or exposure to novel environment, and examined the response of CRH or c- fos mRNAs and proenkephalin (PPE) mRNA and heteronuclear RNA (hnRNA, primary transcript). Male rats were gonadectomized and treated with estrogen or dihydrotestosterone propionate (DHTP) for 2 weeks. In situ hybridization revealed that novelty or HSI elevated levels of PPE hnRNA and c- fos mRNA in the PVN. Estrogen attenuated the elevation of PPE hnRNA in the PVN following HSI, and enhanced the c- fos mRNA response to novelty. In contrast, DHTP did not affect PPE hnRNA, but inhibited the c- fos mRNA response to novelty. These data indicate that in male rats estrogen receptor but not androgen receptor may modulate the endocrine stress response by altering PPE transcription in the PVN and that this effect depends on the type of stressor.
Brain Research – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 1997
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