Neuroendocrine response during stress with relation to gender differences
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Neuroendocrine activation belongs to the main characteristics of the stress response.This response is not uniform but depends on the stress stimuli involved and on many other factors including the gender of the individual.In rats, corticosterone and ACTH levels as well as functional activity of the hypothalmo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis are higher in females compared to males under both basal and stress conditions.Marked sex differences were observed in stress-induced changes in posterior pituitary hormone release.In male rats, release of vasopressin is not stimulated during stress conditions without an osmotic component while in female rats a rise in plasma vasopressin levels was observed even after short immobilization.Oxytocin release is enhanced in response to the majority of stress stimuli and it was found to be greater in females than in males.Mentioned gender differences are attributed to the effect of sex steriods, particularly those of estrogens.Not enough information is available on gender differences in neuroendocrine response during stress in humans.We observed a greater neutroendocrine activation in women than in men in response to heat exposure in sauna with pronounced differences in ACTH and prolactin release and partly also after a cold-pressor test.Understanding of gender differences in neuroendocrine response during stress might contribute to the explanation of the development of some emotional and other disorders with higher incidence in women.
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