Stress-induced morphohistochemical and functional changes in rat adrenal cortex, testis and major salivary glands

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The effect of repeated stress (1 h of daily immobilization for seven consecutive days) on the adrenal cortex of young adult male albino rats was evaluated by morphohistochemical methods and plasma assays; at the same time, testes and major salivary glands, as steroid-producing and -depending organs, respectively, were examined. Morphological and histochemical changes were found in the adrenal cortex, testis and submaxillary gland, though varying in degree and extent depending on the gland examined. Corticosterone and progesterone plasma levels increased, in agreement with the lipid depletion observed in the zona fasciculata, while testosterone and androstenedione decreased, as confirmed by the less marked enzymatic activity in the Leydig cells. The study thus proves that repeated stress, even of temporary duration, is able to influence directly or indirectly the morphofunctional state of the three examined glands, suggesting a functional linkage.

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