Endocrinological and catecholaminergic alterations during sleep deprivation and recovery in male rats
Since previous data of our group showed increased concentrations in HPA axis hormones in sleep deprived rats, we hypothesized that this augmentation could produce effects in other hormonal systems, particularly in the sexual system. Considering that little is known about how the hormonal system changes during the recovery period after sleep deprivation (SD), our objective was to examine from what point SD alters sexual and stress-related hormones along with plasma catecholamine concentrations during 4 days. We also sought to verify the time course of their recovery after an equivalent period of recovery sleep. Rats were deprived of sleep by the platform technique for 1–4 days and were allowed to recover for the same period. Plasma catecholamines [dopamine (DA) and noradrenaline (NOR)], testosterone, estrone, progesterone, prolactin, corticosterone and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentrations were measured. Comparisons between groups showed that the SD procedure used in the present study produced marked alterations in almost all studied hormones from 24 h of SD, except for estrone and prolactin (which required 96 h of SD to become altered). Testosterone and estrone decreased, whereas progesterone, prolactin, corticosterone, ACTH, DA and NOR increased. During recovery period, progesterone, prolactin and corticosterone concentrations returned to control levels, whereas testosterone, estrone, NOR and DA did not. In addition, after 48 h of recovery ACTH and NOR decreased below control concentrations, remaining low until 96 h of sleep recovery. Thus, SD showed long lasting, differential effects upon these neurochemicals suggesting that each has its own pattern of responses to SD as well as variable periods of recovery.