Effects of pre- or postnatal dexamethasone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone and environmental stress on phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase activity and catecholamines in sympathetic ganglia of neonatal rats

Gianutsos, G.; Moore, K.E.

Journal of Neurochemistry 28(5): 935-940


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-3042
PMID: 194018
DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1977.tb10653.x
Accession: 068523557

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Injections of dexamethasone (0.1 mg/kg per day, s.c.) on the first 2-3 days of life increased the phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PNMT) activity and epinephrine content of the superior cervical ganglion (SCG) and stellate ganglion of neonatal rats; the dopamine content was unaltered while norepinephrine was slightly reduced in these ganglia. Dexamethasone did not alter the PNMT activity or epinephrine content of the salivary glands or heart. The PNMT activity and epinephrine content of the SCG remained elevated for 10-14 days. Pretreatment with 6-hydroxydopamine did not alter the dexamethasone effects. Injections of ACTH (25 milliunits/rat twice a day) or exposure to a cold stress (4.degree. C, 3 times a day) on the first 2-3 days of life, elevated the plasma concentration of corticosterone, and also increased the PNMT activty and epinephrine content in SCG of neonatal rats. Injecting pregnant rats with dexamethasone or ACTH, or exposing them to cold or restraint stress on the last 3 days of gestation increased the PNMT activity and epinephrine content in the SCG of their pups. The actions of dexamethasone on neonatal sympathetic ganglia may be mimicked by increasing the plasma concentration of endogenous adrenocortical steroids.