The anteroventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis differentially regulates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis responses to acute and chronic stress.Endocrinology 2008; 149(2):818-26E
The anteroventral region of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) stimulates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis responses to acute stress. However, the role of the anterior BST nuclei in chronic drive of the HPA axis has yet to be established. Therefore, this study tests the role of the anteroventral BST in physiological responses to chronic drive, using a chronic variable stress (CVS) model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received either bilateral ibotenate lesions, targeting the anteroventral BST, or vehicle injection into the same region. Half of the lesion and control rats were exposed to a 14-d CVS paradigm consisting of twice-daily exposure to unpredictable, alternating stressors. The remaining rats were nonhandled control animals that remained in home cages. On the morning after the end of CVS exposure, all rats were exposed to a novel restraint stress challenge. CVS induced attenuated body weight gain, adrenal hypertrophy, thymic involution, and enhanced CRH mRNA in hypophysiotrophic neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, none of which were affected by anteroventral BST lesions. In the absence of CVS, lesions attenuated the plasma corticosterone and paraventricular nucleus c-fos mRNA responses to the acute restraint stress. In contrast, lesions of the anteroventral BST elevated plasma ACTH and corticosterone responses to novel restraint in the rats previously exposed to CVS. These data suggest that the anterior BST plays very different roles in integrating acute stimulation and chronic drive of the HPA axis, perhaps mediated by chronic stress-induced recruitment of distinct BST cell groups or functional reorganization of stress-integrative circuits.