Effect of voluntary wheel running on circadian corticosterone release and on HPA axis responsiveness to restraint stress in Sprague-Dawley rats.
Adaptations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to voluntary exercise in rodents are not clear, because most investigations use forced-exercise protocols, which are associated with psychological stress. In the present study, we examined the effects of voluntary wheel running on the circadian corticosterone (Cort) rhythm as well as HPA axis responsiveness to, and recovery from, restraint stress. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into exercise (E) and sedentary (S) groups, with E rats having 24-h access to running wheels for 5 wk. Circadian plasma Cort levels were measured at the end of each week, except for week 5 when rats were exposed to 20 min of restraint stress, followed by 95 min of recovery. Measurements of glucocorticoid receptor content in the hippocampus and anterior pituitary were performed using Western blotting at the termination of the restraint protocol. In week 1, circadian Cort levels were twofold higher in E compared with S animals, but the levels progressively decreased in the E group throughout the training protocol to reach similar values observed in S by week 4. During restraint stress and recovery, Cort values were similar between E and S, as was glucocorticoid receptor content in the hippocampus and pituitary gland after death. Compared with E, S animals had higher plasma ACTH levels during restraint. Taken together, these data indicate that 5 wk of wheel running are associated with normal circadian Cort activity and normal negative-feedback inhibition of the HPA axis, as well as with increased adrenal sensitivity to ACTH after restraint stress.
Fediuc, S; Campbell, JE; Riddell, MC
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