Plasma catecholamine and corticosterone responses to predictable and unpredictable noise stress in rats

J Van der Gugten, J L Slangen, S.F. de Boer

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Plasma noradrenaline (NA), adrenaline (A) and corticosterone (CS) increases were determined in individual rats subjected to either 20 regularly or irregularly scheduled white-noise stimulations (4 min, 100 dBA). Blood was frequently sampled during the first and twentieth noise exposure, and during a reexposure after 24 hr. During the sampling periods, behavioral activities of the rats were recorded. The initial noise-induced CS release was partially reduced following the regular noise presentations. The increase after irregular presentations remained high. The difference in adrenocortical responsiveness between regular and irregular exposure persisted for 24 hr. The NA response to noise was partially attenuated following irregular administration of noise. However, regular exposure produced increased NA levels prior to noise presentation and a subsequent decrease during stimulation. After 24 hr, noise evoked an exaggerated initial NA release in the regular group. The noise-elicited rise in A was completely abolished after 20 noise presentations irrespective of whether these were applied regularly or irregularly. Reexposure after 24 hr evoked again a significant A response in both groups. No differences were observed in the habituation pattern of behavioral reactions among the regular and irregular groups. The results show that the sympathetic neural, adrenomedullary and adrenocortical systems differ in degree and speed of adaptation to intermittent stressful stimuli and in sensitivity to the predictability of stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-795
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-1989


  • Animals
  • Corticosterone
  • Epinephrine
  • Male
  • Noise
  • Norepinephrine
  • Periodicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Stress, Physiological

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