Isoflavones Alter Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis Response Following Photoperiod Alteration

Bradly M. Bauman, Katelyn N. Buban, Ashley L. Russell, Robert J. Handa, T. John Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Photoperiod and diet are factors known to modulate the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. Specifically, shifts in photoperiod have been previously linked with affective and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, isoflavones have been shown to mediate behavioral outcome in response to the environment of the animal. Here, we investigated the effect of photoperiod alteration on the HPA axis and how the addition of isoflavones might modulate the response to stress. Male C57BL/6J mice were maintained on either a 12:12 or a 16:8 light–dark (LD) cycle for 10 days, and fed a diet of either standard rodent chow or an isoflavone free (IF) chow beginning 3 weeks prior to light alteration. Consistent with previous work, mice in the shorter active period (16:8 LD cycle) showed increased basal corticosterone (CORT) secretion. In the absence of isoflavones, this response was attenuated. Increases in mineralcorticoid (MR) and glucocorticoid (GR) receptor mRNA expression were seen in the pituitary following photoperiod alteration. However, animals fed the standard isoflavone rich chow showed increases in the ratio of MR:GR mRNA in the anterior bed nucleus of the stria terminalis following photoperiod alteration. Decreases in corticotrophin-releasing factor receptor 1 (CRFR1) mRNA expression were seen in animals fed the IF chow in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and ventral hippocampus. These data suggest that alterations in CORT secretion following photoperiod alteration may be mediated through differences in CRFR1 gene expression or changes in MR:GR mRNA ratios. These findings provide insight into the potential mechanisms by which the HPA axis adapts to photoperiod and diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-277
Number of pages10
StatePublished - May 15 2019


  • corticosterone
  • isoflavones
  • photoperiod
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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