Neuroendocrine and neurochemical responses to novelty stress in young and old male F344 rats: Effects of d-fenfluramine treatment

Robert J. Handa, Molly K. Cross, Magdelena George, Ben H. Gordon, Lloyd H. Burgess, Theresa M. Cabrera, Norio Hata, D. Bruce Campbell, Stanley A. Lorens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


To understand some of the mechanisms underlying the neuroendocrine and neurochemical changes associated with aging, we administered the serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] releaser and reuptake inhibitor d-fenfluramine (d-FEN; 0.0, 0.2, or 0.6 mg/kg/day, p.o) for 30-38 days to young (4 months) and old (22 months) F344 male rats. Rats were stressed by placement into a novel open field (OF) for 20 min before sacrifice. Control animals were sacrificed immediately upon removal from their home cage (HC). Old rats exhibited less (p < 0.05) exploratory behavior than young rats, which was not altered by treatment with d-FEN. Old HC rats also had higher (p < 0.05) basal plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and prolactin (PRL) than young HC rats. Old OF rats showed higher (p < 0.05) levels of ACTH and corticosterone (CORT) than young OF animals. A stress-induced increased in PRL secretion was not observed in old rats. Subchronic low-dose d-FEN normalized the enhanced ACTH and CORT responses of old animals to novelty. In addition to these endocrine changes, stress-induced increases in medial frontal cortex (MFC) dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) turnover also were observed. The increase in NE turnover was greater (p < 0.01) in old than in young rats. d-FEN treatment blocked the stress-induced increase in MFC NE but not MFC DA turnover in both young and old rats. These data support a role for 5-HT and/or NE in some age-related neuroendocrine perturbations and suggest that increased 5-HT neurotransmission can normalize the hyperactivation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis of old male rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1993


  • ACTH
  • Aging
  • Corticosterone
  • Dopamine
  • Exploratory behavior
  • Male F344 rat
  • Medial frontal cortex
  • Norepinephrine
  • Prolactin
  • Serotonin
  • Stress
  • d-fenfluramine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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