Effects of estrogen antagonists and agonists on the ACTH response to restraint stress in female rats.
Previous studies have found that female rats are less sensitive than males to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis feedback inhibition by exogenous glucocorticoid administration. To determine whether estrogen contributes to this sex difference, we examined the effects of the estrogen antagonists tamoxifen and C1628 on the ACTH and corticosterone responses to restraint stress. CI628 increased both the ACTH and corticosterone response to restraint stress, and tamoxifen increased the ACTH response to restraint. Using overiectomized female rats, we also examined the effects of seven days of estradiol and/or progesterone replacement. Low dose estradiol decreased the ACTH but not the corticosterone response to restraint stress while progesterone had no effect on ACTH or corticosterone responses. The combination of estradiol and progesterone also decreased the ACTH response to stress, and the magnitude of the effect did not differ from that found with estradiol treatment alone. These data suggest that in the physiological range estradiol is an important inhibitory factor in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress response of females.