Heterogeneous neurochemical responses to different stressors: A test of Selye's doctrine of nonspecificity

Karel Pacak, Miklos Palkovits, Gal Yadid, Richard Kvetnansky, Irwin J. Kopin, David S. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

228 Citations (Scopus)


Selye defined stress as the nonspecific response of the body to any demand. Stressors elicit both pituitary-adrenocortical and sympatheadrenomedullary responses. One can test Selye's concept by comparing magnitudes of responses at different stress intensities and assuming that the magnitudes vary with stress intensity, with the prediction that, at different stress intensities, ratios of increments neuroendocrine responses should be the same. We measured arterial plasma ACTH, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in conscious rats after hemorrhage, intravenous insulin, subcutaneous formaldehyde solution, cold, or immobilization. Relative to ACTH increments, cold evoked large norepinephrine responses, insulin large epinephrine responses, and hemorrhage small norepinephrine and epinephrine responses, whereas immobilization elicited large increases in levels of all three compounds. The ACTH response to 25% hemorrhage exceeded five times that to 10%, and the epinephrine response to 25% hemorrhage was two times that to 10%. The ACTH response to 4% formaldehyde solution was two times that to 1%, and the epinephrine response to 4% formaldehyde solution exceeded four times that to 1%. These results are inconsistent with Selye's doctrine of nonspecificity and the existence of a unitary 'stress syndrome,' and they are more consistent with the concept that each stressor has its own central neurochemical and peripheral neuroendocrine 'signature'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1247-R1255
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4 44-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


  • ACTH
  • Epinephrine
  • Norepinephrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Heterogeneous neurochemical responses to different stressors: A test of Selye's doctrine of nonspecificity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this