Decreased circulatory levels of neuroactive steroids in behaviourally more extremely affected rats subsequent to exposure to a potentially traumatic experience Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examined the effects of stress exposure on plasma levels of corticosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate derivative DHEA-S in relation to behavioural responses. The magnitude of anxiety-like behaviours on the elevated plus-maze and of non-habituated exaggerated startle reactions were assessed in rats exposed to stress compared to controls. Individuals displaying extreme behavioural changes were termed extreme behavioural response (EBR), as opposed to minimal behavioural response (MBR) in both paradigms performed consecutively. Significantly increased circulating corticosterone levels and decreased DHEA levels were found 7 d post-exposure only in EBR individuals, not in their MBR counterparts. DHEA-S levels were reduced in both EBR and MBR stress-exposed rats compared to controls. This suggests that concomitantly decreased circulatory levels of DHEA and elevated corticosterone levels may be associated with an extreme (pathological) response to stress, whilst maintenance of normal levels of both steroids may be associated with minimal response, denoting resilience.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007