Characteristics of the fast, rate-sensitive, negative-feedback regulation of adrenocorticotropin secretion during stress was quantitatively analyzed using rats anesthetized with pentobarbital sodium. Various levels of plasma corticosterone were achieved during morning hours by infusing corticosterone solutions of different concentrations. Blood was sampled serially from the carotid artery. An increase in plasma corticosterone concentration 15 min after intravenous, pulsed injection of histamine (230 microgram) during saline intravenous infusion was defined as the “control response”. When plasma corticosterone was rising during corticosterone infusion, the response to histamine stimulus was distinctly inhibited (fast, rate-sensitive feedback inhibition), whereas such an inhibition was not observed when plasma corticosterone levels were not rising, regardless of the absolute level. The critical rate of rise of plasma corticosterone, at or above which the fast rate-sensitive feedback was manifested, was 4-6 microgram/100 ml per min. When three graded doses of histamine were injected while plasma corticosterone levels were increasing at a rate of 6 microgram/100 ml per min, the absolute value of the inhibition observed was indepxendent of the administered dose of the stressor. A hypothetical model for the mechanism of this feedback inhibition, based on the assumption that the hormone effect was proportional to the rate of formation of hormone-receptor complex, satisfied the quantitative characteristics of the inhibition experimentally observed in this study.
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