To examine a functional relationship among pregnancy and central neurotensin and thermoregulatory and neuroimmune systems during heat stress, we monitored colonic temperature in six virgin female rats and six pregnant rats (9 to 11 days gestation) exposed to a microwave source. We also assayed splenic natural killer cell activity (NKCA), blood corticosterone (CS), and ACTH as indicators of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, β-endorphin (PEP), and neurotensin (NT) in discrete brain regions. Additionally, we clarified the effects of intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of NT antiserum on these same responses in pregnant rats exposed to heat stress. Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed significant main effects of heat and pregnancy and a significant interactive effect on colonic temperature. Significant elevation in blood CS, ACTH, β-EP, and NT in the hypothalamus and significant reductions in splenic NKCA and NT in the nucleus accumbens were produced by hear. In the experiment examining the effect of icv administration of NT antiserum, significant main effects of heat and administration and a significant interactive effect on colonic temperature were observed. Icv administration of NT antiserum increased splenic NKCA and decreased blood β-EP. These results show that pregnancy enhances thermal homeostasis, suggesting central thermoregulatory mechanisms through NT in nucleus accumbens and hypothalamus in which placental or pituitary β-EP may be involved. NT and β-EP seem to play central roles simultaneously in heat-induced immunosuppression during pregnancy. Clarification for the effects of NT antiserum on β-EP in virgin rats or manipulation of agents related to opioid system should be the focus of future work.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience