Disruption of mineralocorticoid receptor function increases corticosterone responding to a mild, but not moderate, psychological stressor

Thaddeus W.W. Pace, Robert L. Spencer

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52 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoid negative feedback regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis is mediated by corticosteroid receptors. It is widely thought that during stress, glucocorticoid receptors (GR) are essential for this negative feedback. In contrast, mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) are associated with HPA axis regulation in basal, nonstress conditions. Notions about the relative roles of MR and GR for HPA axis regulation during stressor challenge may not be complete. Recent work in our laboratory suggests that previous estimates of MR occupancy at resting plasma levels of corticosterone (CORT) may be overestimated. It is possible that a significant number of MR may be available to mediate negative feedback during stressor challenge. We hypothesized that this may be especially the case during mild stressor challenge when the plasma CORT response is weak. In the present studies, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were first treated systemically or centrally with the selective MR antagonist RU28318 (50 mg/kg sc or 500 ng · 10 μl -1 · 2 h-1 icv) or vehicle (300 μl propylene glycol sc or 10 μl/2 h sterile saline icv) and then challenged with 60-min novel environment or restraint. In vehicle controls, restraint resulted in a greater plasma CORT response than novel environment. Both systemic and central treatment with RU28318 significantly increased CORT responding to novel environment relative to vehicle controls. However, RU28318 treatment did not increase the CORT response to restraint. These data suggest that MR may be necessary for glucocorticoid regulation of HPA axis activity during mild stressors, but not during stressors that result in a more robust CORT response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1082-E1088
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6 51-6
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Glucocorticoid negative feedback
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation
  • RU28318

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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