Anti-stress effects of dehydroepiandrosterone: protection of rats against repeated immobilization stress-induced weight loss, glucocorticoid receptor production, and lipid peroxidation

Author

Hu Y, Cardounel A

Date

4/2000

Journal

Biochem Pharmacol

Abstract

In the present study, we have (i) examined the biological effects of repeated immobilization stress, and (ii) tested the hypothesis that the adrenal steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an anti-stress hormone, using male Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats (N = 6) were divided into the following four groups: (i) control, (ii) repeated immobilization stress (2 hr daily, for 60 days), (iii) repeated immobilization stress (2 hr daily, for 60 days) plus daily i.p. administration of 5 mg DHEA/0.1 mL DMSO, and (i.v.) daily i.p. administration of 5 mg DHEA/0.1 mL DMSO alone. Results obtained showed that repeated immobilization stress resulted in a significant (25%) inhibition in body weight gain, a significant increase in adrenal weight, an increase in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in the liver, thymus, and spleen, decreased plasma triglyceride levels, and increased lipid peroxidation in the liver and heart as compared with control unstressed animals. Interestingly, DHEA administration resulted in a significant reversal in stress-induced inhibition in body weight gain, adrenal weight, GR levels in liver, thymus, and spleen, and lipid peroxidation levels in the liver and heart. In addition, animals treated with DHEA alone without stress showed a significant (15%) inhibition in body weight gain and an almost 60% decrease in plasma triglyceride levels as compared with control unstressed animals. It is concluded that DHEA acts as an anti-stress hormone in rats, as shown in its antagonizing the effects of repeated immobilization stress on total body weight, adrenal weight, GR levels, and free radical generation.