Original article| Volume 51, ISSUE 11, P875-881, June 01, 2002

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HPA axis dysregulation in mice overexpressing corticotropin releasing hormone


      Background: Hypersecretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the brain has been implicated in stress-related human pathologies. We developed a transgenic mouse line overexpressing CRH (CRH-OE) exclusively in neural tissues to assess the effect of long-term CRH overproduction on regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
      Methods: Male transgenic CRH-OE2122 mice on a C57BL/6J background were used. Littermate wildtype mice served as control animals. Basal plasma corticotropin and corticosterone concentrations were measured, and adrenal gland weight was determined. A dexamethasone suppression test measured the effects of long-term CRH hypersecretion on negative feedback control. Additionally, we measured plasma corticosterone concentrations in reaction to stress.
      Results: CRH-OE2122 mice showed elevated basal plasma corticosterone concentrations, hypertrophy of the adrenal gland, and dexamethasone nonsuppression. Basal plasma ACTH concentrations of wildtype and CRH-OE2122 mice did not differ significantly. In reaction to stress, CRH-OE2122 mice showed a normal corticosterone response.
      Conclusions: The HPA axis abnormalities observed in CRH-OE2122 mice suggest that long-term hypersecretion of CRH in the brain can be a main cause of HPA axis dysregulation. The alterations in HPA axis regulation are reminiscent of changes reported in major depressive disorder. As such, these CRH -OE2122 mice may model the neuroendocrine changes observed in major depressive disorder.


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