Side-stream smoke in working environments has been regarded as a stressful agent. In this paper, we have studied whether nicotine, pyridine, benzopyrene and solanesol, four substances contained in environmental tobacco smoke,were able to activate hormone mechanisms related to stress. We accomplished this task using in vivo and in vitro models. Nicotine was able to stimulate pituitary adrenocorticotropin and corticosterone secretion in vivo in the rat,whereas pyridine, benzopyrene and solanesol failed to do so. Nicotine stimulated corticotropin releasing hormone secretion from explanted rat hypothalami in vitro, in a concentration-dependent manner. On the other hand, pyridine,benzopyrene and solanesol did not stimulate corticotropin releasing hormone secretion. Nicotine, pyridine, benzopyrene and solanesol were not able to stimulate adrenocorticotropin secretion from dispersed rat pituicytes. Results indicate that, with the exception of nicotine, substances contained in side-stream smoke examined in our work are not able to act as stressful agents and produce activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat.

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