Effects of estrogen and estrous cycle on glucocorticoid and catecholamine responses to stress in sheep

Paul A. Komesaroff, Murray Esler, Iain J. Clarke, Meryl J. Fullerton, John W. Funder

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62 Citations (Scopus)


There have been relatively few studies of the effects of estrogen on hormonal responses to stress. We therefore studied changes in ACTH, cortisol, norepinephrine (NE), and epinephrine (Epi) after stress induced by a barking dog (audiovisual stressor) and insulin-induced hypoglycemia (metabolic stressor) in ovariectomized sheep treated with estradiol or placebo and in intact sheep in the follicular and luteal phases of the estrous cycle. Both stressors produced acute increases in ACTH, cortisol, Epi, and NE. A high physiological dose of estradiol significantly reduced the ACTH and cortisol responses to both stressors but did not affect Epi and NE responses. Plasma ACTH and cortisol responses to both stressors and Epi and NE responses to insulin were lower in the follicular than in the luteal phase, but catecholamine responses to the audiovisual stressor did not change during the estrous cycle. We conclude that in sheep, estrogen attenuates glucocorticoid responses to stress and that hormonal changes during the estrous cycle affect glucocorticoid responses to both metabolic and audiovisual stressors and catecholamine responses to a metabolic stressor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E671-E678
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4 38-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenal gland
  • Catecholamines
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

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