A Moderate Increase in Ambient Temperature Influences The
Structure and Hormonal Secretion of Adrenal Glands in Rats
As a consequence of global warming, the increase in the average annual temperature is observed, while the living organisms actively adapt to these changes. High environmental temperature initiates numerous physiological, autonomic, and behavioral responses, and activates the stress response. Thus, the aim of the study was to investigate effect of a moderate increase in ambient temperature on the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis by determining histological changes in adrenal glands and hormonal levels in adult male rats. Material and Methods: In this experimental study, the morpho-functional state of adrenal glands was estimated by stereological evaluation of parameters, including the adrenal volume, adrenocortical cell/nuclear size and number, and the volume density of vascular tissues after four days of exposure to a moderate increase in ambient temperature of 35 ± 1˚C. Novelli histochemical and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) immunohistochemical staining provided insight into the adrenal gland vascular network. Additionally, the adrenal levels of aldosterone, corticosterone, and pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were determined as crucial indicators of the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenocortical (HPA) axis activity.
Prolonged exposure to a moderate increase in ambient temperature for four days resulted in a significant increase in ACTH level up to 24%, which altered adrenal glands both structurally and functionally. The adrenocortical volume and number of cells in all cortical zones were markedly increased (P<0.05). A statistically significant increase was shown in the level of aldosterone (16%) and corticosterone (25%) in serum levels of individuals.
Increased activity of the HPA axis reflects the response to a moderate increase in ambient temperature during four days, showing the capacity of the HPA axis to adapt the organism to daily temperature changes.