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doi: 10.1210/en.2010-1432; PubMed Central: PMCID 3060631
Nearby construction can cause subtle, but important activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in laboratory rats.
Although loud noise and intense vibration are known to alter the behavior and phenotype of laboratory animals, little is known about the effects of nearby construction. We studied the effect of a nearby construction project on the classic stress hormones ACTH, corticosterone, renin, and aldosterone in rats residing in a barrier animal facility before, for the first 3 months of a construction project, and at 1 month after all construction was completed. During some of the construction, noise and vibrations were not obvious to investigators inside the animal rooms. Body weight matched for age was not altered by nearby construction. During nearby construction, plasma ACTH, corticosterone, and aldosterone were approximately doubled compared with those of pre- and postconstruction levels. Expression of CRH mRNA in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, CRH receptor and POMC mRNA in the anterior pituitary, and most mRNAs for steroidogenic genes in the adrenal gland were not significantly changed during construction. We conclude that nearby construction can cause a stress response without long-term effects on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis gene expression and body weight.