Neurochemical and metabolic effects of acute (immobilization for 2 h) and chronic (immobilization for 2 h/day for 4 consecutive days) stress were investigated in diabetic female rats either pretreated 1 week or 5 weeks earlier with streptozotocin (STZ). Hypothalamic serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) metabolism was estimated by measuring the respective levels of 5-HT precursor, the amino acid tryptophan (TRP), 5-HT and the 5-HT metabolite, namely 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA). To assess the respective metabolic effects of stress and diabetes, plasma total TRP, insulin, glucose and corticosterone levels were measured. Short- and long-term STZ treatment triggered marked decreases in plasma total TRP and hypothalamus TRP levels but the diabetogenic agent diminished 5-HT metabolism in the 1-week ST-treated rats only. Acute stress promoted a marked decrease in plasma total TRP in the vehicle-treated rats and in the 1-week-diabetic rats, which was associated with significant increases in hypothalamic TRP and 5-HIAA levels. In the 5-week-diabetic rats, a single restraint affected neither peripheral and central TRP levels nor hypothalamus 5-HT metabolism. Acute stress triggered hypercorticosteronemia in all groups of rats but it promoted hyperglycemia and hypoinsulinemia in the vehicle-injected rats only. Twenty-four hours after the fourth immobilization, plasma total TRP was reduced in the vehicle-injected rats only with no effect on hypothalamic levels of TRP. On the other hand, chronic restraint was found to reduce exclusively hypothalamus 5-HT and 5-HIAA levels in the 5-week-diabetic rats. Besides, chronic immobilization did not alter the respective plasma glucose, insulin and corticosterone concentrations. Taken together, these data suggest disturbed adaptation of hypothalamic 5-HT metabolism to stress in the long-term STZ-treated rats. Such a possibility is discussed with reference to the endocrine and mood alterations associated with diabetes mellitus.

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