Alpha-Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone Attenuates Behavioral Effects of Corticotropin-Releasing Factor in Isolated Guinea Pig Pups

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During a 3-hr period of social isolation in a novel environment, guinea pig pups exhibit an initial active phase of behavioral responsiveness, characterized primarily by vocalizing, which is then followed by a stage of passive responsiveness in which pups display a distinctive crouch, eye-closing, and extensive piloerection. Prior treatment of pups with alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) reduces each of the passive behaviors. The onset of passive responding during separation can be accelerated with peripheral injection of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). To examine whether CRF produces its effects through a mechanism similar to that of prolonged separation, we examined the effect of administering α-MSH to pups injected with CRF. As expected, CRF markedly enhanced passive responding during a 60-min period of separation. α-MSH delivered by either intracerebroventricular infusion or intraperitoneal injection significantly reduced each of the passive behavioral responses without significantly affecting active behavior. These findings, together with previous results indicating that it is the anti-inflammatory property of α-MSH that is responsible for its behavioral effects during prolonged separation, suggest that peripheral CRF speeds the induction of passive responding through a mechanism involving enhanced proinflammatory activity. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 51: 399–407, 2009.



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