Pituitary-adrenal function after transplantation in rats: Dependence on age of the adrenal graft

W. C. Engeland

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9 Scopus citations


Comparisons of resting plasma adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and corticosterone in the morning and afternoon were made among adult rats bearing regenerated adult adrenal grafts, neonatal (day 1) adrenal grafts, adult adrenal capsule grafts, or intact adrenals. In the morning plasma ACTH and corticosterone were similar in all rats. In the afternoon, plasma ACTH was elevated in rats bearing neonatal adrenal grafts or adult adrenal capsule grafts, but not in rats bearing whole adult adrenal grafts. There was no difference in afternoon plasma corticosterone among rats bearing transplanted adrenals, although afternoon plasma corticosterone was decreased in rats bearing transplants compared with rats with intact adrenals. Thus the increased plasma ACTH after adrenal transplantation cannot be explained entirely by decreases in resting plasma corticosterone. Adrenal responsiveness to ACTH was tested at 5 wk after transplantation in the afternoon by measuring the plasma corticosterone response to submaximal doses of ACTH. The responsiveness was decreased in rats bearing transplants. In addition, responsiveness was inversely related to the age of the grafted adrenal tissue. Adrenals regenerated from adult adrenals were more responsive than adrenals regenerated either from neonatal adrenals or from adult adrenal capsules. The findings suggest that following adrenal transplantation reestablishment of normal pituitary-adrenocortical function does not occur in rats bearing adrenals regenerated from immature adrenal cells. In addition, comparable alterations occur after regeneration of adrenal tissue from neonatal adrenal cells and adult adrenal capsular cells. Elevated plasma ACTH associated with adequate plasma corticosterone in rats bearing adrenals regenerated from immature adrenal cells may result from chronic alteration in responsiveness to steroid feedback. Alternatively, elevated plasma ACTH may result from increased drive to the corticotroph secondary to decreased responsiveness of the adrenal to ACTH; that is, the relatively nonresponsive adrenal may require increased stimulation to maintain normal concentrations of plasma corticosterone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E87-E93
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1 (13/1)
StatePublished - 1986


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