Short stressor induced long-lasting increases of vasopressin stores in hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) neurons in adult rats

J Neuroendocrinol. 1996 Sep;8(9):703-12.


Recently, we demonstrated that single administration of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1) to adult rats induces a long-lasting (weeks) increase of vasopressin (AVP) stores in terminals of CRH neurons in the external zone of the median eminence (ZEME). This is accompanied by hypersecretion of AVP into the pituitary portal circulation and long-lasting hyperresponsiveness of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to stressors. Here, we determine whether this form of plasticity of hypothalamic CRH neurons is specific for IL-1 or represents a general response to a stressor. Single exposure of rats to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), IL-1, brain surgery or electric footshocks increases the AVP stores in the ZEME 7 and 11 days later. Exposure to insulin or ether does not affect the AVP stores. The stressors have little or no effect on the CRH stores in the ZEME. The amplitude of the increase in AVP as measured 7-11 days after stimulation correlates with the overall ACTH response to the stressor (area under curve, r = 0.89, P < 0.0001), with the peak ACTH levels (r = 0.52, P < 0.05), but not with the duration of the ACTH response nor with any parameter of the corticosterone response. Administration of ACTH or corticosterone at doses that mimic stress-induced plasma levels does not increase AVP stores 7 days later. We conclude that long-lasting increases of AVP stores in CRH terminals in the ZEME can be induced by various stressors and postulate that the amplitude of such increases depends on the degree of activation of the CRH neurons by the stressor. (NWO grant: 900-543-101.)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / metabolism*
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stress, Physiological / blood
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism*


  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Corticosterone