Diurnal Differences and Adrenal Involvement in Calmodulin Stimulation of Hippocampal Adenylate Cyclase Activity

Maureen N. Gannon, Roberta E. Brinton, Randall R. Sakai, Bruce S. McEwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Calciam/calmodulin‐dependent processes are altered by manipulations of the hypothalamic‐pituitary‐adrenal axis, and are associated with changes in synaptic efficacy in the hippocampus, such as long‐term potentiation. Recent evidence indicates that there are diurnal variations in the threshold for long‐term potentiation, as well as diverse effects of the adrenals and of adrenal steroids on electrical activity related to long‐term potentiation. In order to probe possible mechanisms underlying these observations, we investigated the effects of the diurnal cycle, as well as adrenalectomy (ADX) and adrenal demedullation on adenylate cyclase activity. In hippocampal, but not cortical, membranes the adenylate cyclase response to calmodulin was higher during the beginning of the dark phase of the cycle, when endogenous corticosterone levels are high. Basal and forskolin‐stimulated adenylate cyclase activity did not exhibit diurnal variation in either brain region. ADX (6 and 14 days) depressed the adenylate cyclase response to calmodulin in hippocampal membranes, and abolished the diurnal difference. ADX had smaller effects on this response in cortical membranes. ADX also attenuated basal and forskolin‐stimulated adenylate cyclase activity, but these changes were less striking than effects on calmodulin‐stimulated activity. Demedullation (14 days), generating corticosterone levels in the low physiological range, mirrored the effects of ADX on hippocampal adenylate cyclase activity. Corticosterone (20 to 25 μg/ml in the drinking water) did not consistently prevent ADX effects on adenylate cyclase activity. These results demonstrate that adrenal effects on adenylate case activity are regionally specific within the brain, and they suggest that other adrenal secretions besides glucocorticoids may be involved in the feedback of the diurnal rhythm on the hippocampus. Taken together with our recent finding that chronic stress or corticosterone injection selectively attenuated the adenylate cyclase response to calmodulin in cortical, but not hippocampal membranes our findings provide further support for a role of the pituitary‐adrenal axis in modulating neural calmodulin‐dependent adenylate cyclase activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • adrenalectomy
  • calmodulin adenylate cyclase
  • cortex
  • diurnal variation
  • hippocampus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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