Effect of selection for behavior on pituitary-adrenal axis and proopiomelanocortin gene expression in silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

Physiol Behav. 2004 Sep 15;82(2-3):513-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.04.062.


Silver foxes from a commercial population (farm bred or unselected for behavior control) and from populations selected for tame behavior and enhanced aggressiveness towards man have been investigated. Plasma cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels, pituitary ACTH levels, POMC gene expression in the anterior pituitary, and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) gene expression in the hypothalamus were assessed. The results indicate that the males from the tame-behavior group have lower plasma cortisol and ACTH levels and POMC gene expression in the anterior pituitary in response to capture and handling in comparison with unselected ones. Foxes from the aggressive behavior group also have lower POMC expression, although plasma cortisol and ACTH levels remain the same as in unselected ones. The three groups of animals show no significant changes in the ACTH level in the pituitary and CRF expression in the hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / genetics
  • Animals, Domestic / physiology
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Foxes / genetics
  • Foxes / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Variation
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / anatomy & histology
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / physiology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / genetics
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / metabolism*
  • RNA / analysis
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • RNA
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone