Research Article Free access | 10.1172/JCI111748
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Published February 1, 1985 - More info
The effect of the continuous exposure to ovine corticotropin-releasing factor (oCRF) was measured in adult male rats. The intravenous infusion of 0.75 nmol oCRF/h to intact rats over a 24-h period was accompanied by a peak of ACTH and corticosterone secretion that occurred during the first 90 min of administration of the releasing factor, followed by a decrease to lower, but still above control, values. Additionally, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-treated rats had decreased plasma testosterone levels. The subcutaneous administration of 0.075 or 0.75 nmol oCRF/h to intact rats for 7 d also resulted in elevations of both plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels comparable to those measured after a 24-h exposure to the releasing factor, as well as dose-related hypertrophy of the adrenals and increases in pituitary ACTH content. In these animals, CRF markedly inhibited luteinizing hormone (LH) (but not follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH] ), testosterone, and PRL secretion and decreased seminal vesicle weights. All the effects of CRF were mimicked by exogenously administered ACTH. By contrast, with the exception of FSH secretion, which was slightly elevated by CRF, neither CRF nor ACTH were able to significantly modify reproductive parameters in adrenalectomized animals, which suggests that the elevation of circulating levels of adrenal steroids induced by peripherally administered CRF represents major mediators of CRF-induced inhibition of fertility. These results indicate that in the rat, the continuous stimulation of the pituitary-adrenal axis by peripherally administered CRF causes some degree of desensitization of the pituitary-adrenal axis, but is still accompanied by persistent elevations of the circulating levels of both ACTH and corticosteroids. The increased secretion of adrenal steroids by CRF-treated rats is believed to participate in the disruption of reproductive parameters observed in these rats.