Daily variations in plasma noradrenaline, adrenaline and corticosterone concentrations in rats

J Van der Gugten, Sietse de Boer

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Plasma noradrenaline (NA), adrenaline (A) and corticosterone (CS) concentrations were determined in blood samples taken once every hour during a 12-hr light/12-hr dark period from freely moving rats with a permanent heart cannula. Before, during and shortly after each blood sampling, behavioral activity was recorded. All rats exhibited a very pronounced peak in CS concentrations at the end of the light period, indicating normal circadian rhythmicity. Plasma NA and A contents varied significantly over the 24-hr sampling period. During nighttime, the behaviorally active phase, mean levels of circulating A and NA were significantly higher than during daytime resting period. Significant correlations between the daily NA, A and behavioral activity patterns were found only when uncorrected data were considered. In contrast, no significant correlations were found for values corrected for circadian trends, indicating that circadian patterns of NA, A and behavioral activity rather than their short-term fluctuations are similar. It is concluded that the circadian variations in plasma NA and A reflect a common activation of both the neural and adrenomedullary parts of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, most likely associated with the daily patterning of behavior activities. On short-term basis through the day however, a dissociation between these two parts can occur suggesting separate regulating mechanisms for the fine tuning of physiological processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1987


  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Corticosterone
  • Epinephrine
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine
  • Rats

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