Long-term cortisol treatment impairs behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to 5-HT1 agonists in the rat

G. Bagdy, A. E. Calogero, C. S. Aulakh, K. Szemeredi, D. L. Murphy

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The effects of chronic cortisol treatment on neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to serotonin1 (5-HT1) receptor agonists were studied in conscious, freely moving rats. Seven-day cortisol treatment (25 mg/kg/day with osmotic minipumps) markedly suppressed basal plasma corticotropin (ACTH) and corticosterone concentrations, indicating a suppression of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Cortisol also decreased body weight, food intake, plasma norepinephrine (NE), and epinephrine (E) levels. In the drug challenge studies, we used two 5-HT1 agonists, the 5-HT(1B) and 5-HT(1C) agonist, m-chloropenylpiperazine (m-CPP), and the 5-HT(1A) agonist, 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino) tetralin (8-OHDPAT), to examine the effect of cortisol on their behavioral and neuroendocrine effects. After 7-day cortisol treatment, plasma prolactin responses to both m-CPP and 8-OHDPAT were significantly decreased. While the plasma NE, E, and food intake responses to m-CPP were also significantly reduced by cortisol treatment, these same responses to 8-OHDPAT were unchanged. The effect of m-CPP on locomotor activity was also decreased. Since only the responses to m-CPP and 8-OHDPAT previously shown to be antagonized by pretreatment with the 5-HT1/5-HT2 antagonist, metergoline, were significantly attenuated after cortisol treatment, these changes may be specific to 5-HT receptors. These data indicate that chronic exposure to high glucocorticoid levels alters 5-HT1 receptor-mediated functions and provides additional evidence relevant to contribution of glucocorticoid elevation to the symptoms of depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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