The Wistar Audiogenic Rat (WAR) strain is a genetic model of sound-induced reflex epilepsy which was selected starting from audiogenic seizures susceptible Wistar rats. Wistar resistant rats were used as WAR's control in this study. In the acute situation, audiogenic seizures (AS) in WARs mimic tonic-clonic seizures and, in the chronic protocol, mimic temporal lobe epilepsy. AS have been shown to evoke neuroendocrine responses; however, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity in the WAR has not been established. The aim of this study was to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) responses to exogenous ACTH stimulation (8 ng/rat), fifteen minute restraint stress and circadian variation (8 am and 8 pm) under rest conditions in these animals through plasma measurements of ACTH and corticosterone concentrations. We also measured the body weight from birth to the 9th week of life and determined adrenal gland weight. We found that WARs are smaller than Wistar and presented a higher adrenal gland weight with a higher level of corticosterone release after intravenous ACTH injection. They also showed altered HPA axis circadian rhythms and responses to restraint stress. Our data indicate that, despite the lower body weight, WARs have increased adrenal gland weight associated with enhanced pituitary and adrenal responsiveness after HPA axis stimulation. Thus, we propose WARs as a model to study stress-epilepsy interactions and epilepsy-neuropsychiatry comorbidities.
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