Influence of Psychogenic and Neurogenic Stressors on Endocrine and Immune Activity: Differential Effects in Fast and Slow Seizing Rat Strains

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Variations of plasma ACTH and corticosterone, as well as splenic macrophage activity and mitogen-induced cell proliferation, were determined in rats following 15 min of either the neurogenic stressor of restraint or by a purely psychogenic stressor consisting of exposure to a ferret. The effects of these stressors were assessed in two strains of rats that were selectively bred for either Fast or Slow kindling epileptogenesis triggered in response to amygdala stimulation. The stressors differentially influenced behavioral responses, endocrine activity, and immune functioning, and these effects varied with the strain of rat. In response to restraint the Fast rats exhibited protracted struggling, while the Slow rats tended to be immobile. In contrast, upon ferret exposure the Fast rats showed greater immobility than the Slow rats. The stressors also induced marked elevations of plasma ACTH and corticosterone. Whereas the ACTH and corticosterone increases were more pronounced in response to the ferret in the Slow rats, restraint resulted in a markedly greater rise of plasma ACTH in the Fast strain. Proliferation of splenic lymphocytes in response to Con A and LPS were elevated in Fast seizing rats, while macrophage activity, as determined by oxygen burst following addition of PMA and luminol to splenic mononuclear cells, was greater in the Slow seizing strain. While neither stressor influenced cell proliferation in either the Fast or Slow rats, macrophage activity was greatly suppressed by ferret exposure only in the Slow rats. Taken together, it appears that while stressors influence behavior and immune and endocrine functioning, these effects may vary as a function of the interaction of the strain of rat and the specific type of stressor employed.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Brain, Behavior, and Immunity