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(1/3421) Cortisol in fetal fluids and the fetal adrenal at parturition in the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii).

Glucocorticoid hormones may play a critical role in initiating parturition in tammar wallabies. In this study, we investigated the concentration of cortisol in fetal fluids and cortisol production by fetal adrenals over the last 3 days of the 26-day pregnancy and within 24 h postpartum. The fetal adrenals almost doubled in size between Days 24 and 26 of pregnancy, and their cortisol content increased over 10-fold during this period, from 10 pg to over 100 pg per adrenal pair. After birth, neonatal adrenals continued to grow, but cortisol content fell dramatically to 20 pg. The prepartum increase in adrenal cortisol was reflected by a substantial rise in cortisol concentrations in yolk sac fluid, allantoic fluid, and fetal blood, which were below 10 ng/ml on Day 24 and rose to over 40 ng/ml by Day 26. Cortisol concentrations in neonatal blood decreased postpartum, mirroring decreased cortisol content in neonatal adrenals. Cortisol production by the fetal adrenal was stimulated in vitro by ACTH and prostaglandin E2, suggesting that the in vivo increase may be stimulated by release of ACTH from the fetal hypothalamic-pituitary axis and prostaglandin E2 from the placenta. These results indicate that increasing cortisol production by the fetal adrenal is a characteristic of late pregnancy in the tammar wallaby and support the suggestion that fetal cortisol may trigger the initiation of parturition in this marsupial species.  (+info)

(2/3421) Delay of preterm delivery in sheep by omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturates.

A positive correlation has been shown between dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in late pregnancy and gestation length in pregnant women and experimental animals. To determine whether omega-3 fatty acids have an effect on preterm labor in sheep, a fish oil concentrate emulsion was continuously infused to six pregnant ewes from 124 days gestational age. At 125 days, betamethasone was administered to the fetus to produce preterm labor. Both the onset of labor and the time of delivery were delayed by the fish oil emulsion. Two of the omega-3-infused ewes reverted from contractions to nonlabor, an effect never previously observed for experimental glucocorticoid-induced preterm labor in sheep. Maternal plasma estradiol and maternal and fetal prostaglandin E2 rose in control ewes but not in those infused with omega-3 fatty acid. The ability of omega-3 fatty acids to delay premature delivery in sheep indicates their possible use as tocolytics in humans. Premature labor is the major cause of neonatal death and long-term disability, and these studies present information that may lead to a novel therapeutic regimen for the prevention of preterm delivery in human pregnancy.  (+info)

(3/3421) On the meaning of low-dose ACTH(1-24) tests to assess functionality of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

To analyse further the ACTH(1-24) low-dose test, which is of clinical interest, we have examined the dose-response relationship between plasma ACTH(1-24) and cortisol concentrations after i.v. administration of increasing doses (1, 5 or 250 microg) of ACTH(1-24) as a bolus. In addition, we have measured plasma ACTH(1-39) and cortisol levels after an insulin tolerance test (ITT). Although there was a dose response relationship between plasma ACTH(1-24) immunoreactivity and the dose injected, cortisol peaks were comparable, but lower than those reached after an ITT. Under these experimental conditions, an increase in plasma ACTH as low as 13 pmol/l (i.e. the increase obtained with the 1 microg dose) induced a near maximal cortisol response. Following injection of 1 microg ACTH(1-24), peak ACTH values were short lasting, similar to physiological daily bursts. After injection of 5 microg ACTH(1-24), plasma ACTH concentrations were higher than those reached during an ITT, but clearly shorter lasting. Injection of 250 microg ACTH(1-24) induced strikingly supraphysiological levels of plasma ACTH. We conclude that neither regular nor low-dose ACTH tests can fully reproduce the ITT. Our observations strongly suggest that the low-dose ACTH(1-24) test (1 microg) can be useful to estimate the adrenal sensitivity under basal, physiological conditions.  (+info)

(4/3421) The treatment of insulin resistance does not improve adrenal cytochrome P450c17alpha enzyme dysregulation in polycystic ovary syndrome.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether metformin. when given to non-diabetic women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), results in a reduction of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia while body weight is maintained. Also we aimed to see whether the reduction in insulin levels attenuates the activity of adrenal P450c17alpha enzyme in patients with PCOS. DESIGN: We investigated the 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) and androstenedione responses to ACTH, insulin responses to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and glucose disposal rate in an insulin tolerance test before and after metformin therapy (500 mg, orally, twice daily, for 12 weeks). METHODS: The presence of hyperinsulinemia in 15 women with PCOS was demonstrated by an OGTT and results were compared with those of 10 healthy women. Insulin sensitivity was measured by the rate of endogenous glucose disposal after i.v. bolus injection of insulin. 17-OHP and androstenedione responses to ACTH were measured in all the women with PCOS and the normal women. RESULTS: Women with PCOS were hyperinsulinemic (102.0+/-13.0 (S.E.M.) VS 46.2+/-4.4 pmol/l) and hyperandrogenemic (free testosterone 15.3+/-1.7 vs 7.9+/-0.6 nmol/l; androstenedione 11.8+/-0.8 vs 8.2+/-0.6 nmol/l) and more hirsute (modified Ferriman-Gallwey score, 17.7+/-1.6 vs 3.0+/-0.3) than healthy women. In addition, women with PCOS had higher 17-OHP and androstenedione responses to ACTH when compared with healthy women. Metformin therapy resulted in some improvement in insulin sensitivity and reduced the basal and post-glucose load insulin levels. But 17-OHP and androstenedione responses to ACTH were unaltered in response to metformin. CONCLUSIONS: PCOS is characterized by hyperactivity of the adrenal P450c17alpha enzyme and insulin resistance. It seems that there is no direct relationship between insulin resistance and adrenal P450c17alpha enzyme dysregulation.  (+info)

(5/3421) Primary hypoadrenocorticism in a dog receiving glucocorticoid supplementation.

A 5-year-old, spayed, female husky-Labrador retriever cross was diagnosed with primary hypoadrenocorticism, an uncommon endocrine disorder caused by a deficiency of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid hormones. Subtle clinical signs and previous treatment with exogenous glucocorticoid drugs required an adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation test to confirm the diagnosis.  (+info)

(6/3421) Central administration of rat IL-6 induces HPA activation and fever but not sickness behavior in rats.

Interleukin (IL)-6 has been proposed to mediate several sickness responses, including brain-mediated neuroendocrine, temperature, and behavioral changes. However, the exact mechanisms and sites of action of IL-6 are still poorly understood. In the present study, we describe the effects of central administration of species-homologous recombinant rat IL-6 (rrIL-6) on the induction of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity, fever, social investigatory behavior, and immobility. After intracerebroventricular administration of rrIL-6 (50 or 100 ng/rat), rats demonstrated HPA and febrile responses. In contrast, rrIL-6 alone did not induce changes in social investigatory and locomotor behavior at doses of up to 400 ng/rat. Coadministration of rrIL-6 (100 ng/rat) and rrIL-1beta (40 ng/rat), which alone did not affect the behavioral responses, reduced social investigatory behavior and increased the duration of immobility. Compared with rhIL-6, intracerebroventricular administration of rrIL-6 (100 ng/rat) induced higher HPA responses and early-phase febrile responses. This is consistent with a higher potency of rrIL-6, compared with rhIL-6, in the murine B9 bioassay. We conclude that species-homologous rrIL-6 alone can act in the brain to induce HPA and febrile responses, whereas it only reduces social investigatory behavior and locomotor activity in the presence of IL-1beta.  (+info)

(7/3421) Suppression of the secretion of luteinizing hormone due to isolation/restraint stress in gonadectomised rams and ewes is influenced by sex steroids.

In this study we used an isolation/restraint stress to test the hypothesis that stress will affect the secretion of LH differently in gonadectomised rams and ewes treated with different combinations of sex steroids. Romney Marsh sheep were gonadectomised two weeks prior to these experiments. In the first experiment male and female sheep were treated with vehicle or different sex steroids for 7 days prior to the application of the isolation/restraint stress. Male sheep received either i.m. oil (control rams) or 6 mg testosterone propionate injections every 12 h. Female sheep were given empty s.c. implants (control ewes), or 2x1 cm s.c. implants containing oestradiol, or an intravaginal controlled internal drug release device containing 0.3 g progesterone, or the combination of oestradiol and progesterone. There were four animals in each group. On the day of application of the isolation/restraint stress, blood samples were collected every 10 min for 16 h for the subsequent measurement of plasma LH and cortisol concentrations. After 8 h the stress was applied for 4 h. Two weeks later, blood samples were collected for a further 16 h from the control rams and ewes, but on this day no stress was imposed. In the second experiment, separate control gonadectomised rams and ewes (n=4/group) were studied for 7 h on 3 consecutive days, when separate treatments were applied. On day 1, the animals received no treatment; on day 2, isolation/restraint stress was applied after 3 h; and on day 3, an i. v. injection of 2 microg/kg ACTH1-24 was given after 3 h. On each day, blood samples were collected every 10 min and the LH response to the i.v. injection of 500 ng GnRH administered after 5 h of sampling was measured. In Experiment 1, the secretion of LH was suppressed during isolation/restraint in all groups but the parameters of LH secretion (LH pulse frequency and amplitude) that were affected varied between groups. In control rams, LH pulse amplitude, and not frequency, was decreased during isolation/restraint whereas in rams treated with testosterone propionate the stressor reduced pulse frequency and not amplitude. In control ewes, isolation/restraint decreased LH pulse frequency but not amplitude. Isolation/restraint reduced both LH pulse frequency and amplitude in ewes treated with oestradiol, LH pulse frequency in ewes treated with progesterone and only LH pulse amplitude in ewes treated with both oestradiol and progesterone. There was no change in LH secretion during the day of no stress. Plasma concentrations of cortisol were higher during isolation/restraint than on the day of no stress. On the day of isolation/restraint maximal concentrations of cortisol were observed during the application of the stressor but there were no differences between groups in the magnitude of this response. In Experiment 2, isolation/restraint reduced the LH response to GnRH in rams but not ewes and ACTH reduced the LH response to GnRH both in rams and ewes. Our results show that the mechanism(s) by which isolation/restraint stress suppresses LH secretion in sheep is influenced by sex steroids. The predominance of particular sex steroids in the circulation may affect the extent to which stress inhibits the secretion of GnRH from the hypothalamus and/or the responsiveness of the pituitary gland to the actions of GnRH. There are also differences between the sexes in the effects of stress on LH secretion that are independent of the sex steroids.  (+info)

(8/3421) Tests of adrenal insufficiency.

AIM: In suspected adrenal insufficiency, the ideal test for assessing the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis is controversial. Therefore, three tests were compared in patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of adrenal insufficiency. METHOD: Responses to the standard short Synacthen test (SSST), the low dose Synacthen test (LDST), and the 08:00 hour serum cortisol concentration were measured in 32 patients. A normal response to the synacthen test was defined as a peak serum cortisol of >/= 500 nmol/l and/or incremental concentration of >/= 200 nmol/l. The sensitivity and specificity of the 08:00 hour serum cortisol concentration compared with other tests was calculated. RESULTS: Three patients had neither an adequate peak nor increment after the SSST and LDST. All had a serum 08:00 hour cortisol concentration of < 200 nmol/l. Eight patients had abnormal responses by both criteria to the LDST but had normal responses to the SSST. Three reported amelioration of their symptoms on hydrocortisone replacement. Twenty one patients had a normal response to both tests (of these, 14 achieved adequate peak and increment after both tests and seven did not have an adequate peak after the LDST but had a normal increment). The lowest 08:00 hour serum cortisol concentration above which patients achieved normal responses to both the LDST and SSST was 500 nmol/l. At this cut off value (compared with the LDST), the serum 08:00 hour cortisol concentration had a sensitivity of 100% but specificity was only 33%. CONCLUSION: The LDST revealed mild degrees of adrenal insufficiency not detected by the SSST. The value of a single 08:00 hour serum cortisol concentration is limited.  (+info)