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Stress-induced inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis is attenuated in the aged Fischer 344/N male rat

Stress-induced inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis is attenuated in the aged Fischer 344/N male rat

Neuroendocrinology 62(5): 506-513

Aging is associated with a progressive decrement in the basal activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis in male Fischer 344/N rats. The aim of this study was to determine whether stress influences the activity of this axis in young and old rats. As prolactin and growth hormone share some regulatory mechanisms with thyrotropin-releasing and thyroid-stimulating hormones, which are influenced by stress, the plasma levels of these two hormones were also determined during immobilization (Immo). To accomplish this, young (3-month-old) and old (23-month-old) male 344/N Fischer rats were immobilized for 2 h; blood was collected by cannulation from the tail artery at different intervals during Immo (0, 5, 30, 60, and 120 min), and brains were removed at the end of Immo. The basal plasma levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone were similar in both groups, but were significantly and progressively inhibited by Immo in young, but not in old rats. The baseline plasma levels of total triiodothyronine were slightly lower in old than in young rats; Immo caused a significant decrease of total triiodothyronine levels only in the young animals. The baseline plasma levels of free triiodothyronine were similar and were not altered by Immo in either age group. The paraventricular nucleus thyrotropin-releasing hormone mRNA levels were lower in old than in young rats under basal conditions; under stress they were significantly inhibited in young, but remained unchanged in old rats. The basal thyroid-stimulating hormone beta mRNA levels in the anterior pituitary were significantly lower in old than in young rats, but were not affected by Immo in either age group. The plasma prolactin levels were similar at baseline and were significantly increased by Immo in both age groups, but significantly more in old than in young rats. The plasma growth hormone levels were also similar at baseline; they were significantly decreased by Immo to a similar extent in both age groups. In summary, these data indicate that the stress-induced decrease in plasma thyroid-stimulating hormone is in part mediated at the level of the hypothalamic thyrotrophin-releasing hormone neuron and that this phenomenon is attenuated in the aged rat.

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Accession: 009462601

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PMID: 8559282

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