Comparison of neuroendocrine and behavioral effects of ipsapirone, a 5-HT1A agonist, in three stress paradigms: immobilization, forced swim and conditioned fear

Peter A. Rittenhouse, Erica A. Bakkum, Patricia A. O'Connor, Molly Carnes, Cynthia L. Bethea, Louis D. van de Kar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Ipsapirone is an anxiolytic drug and a serotonin1A (5-HT1A) agonist. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of low doses of ipsapirone on the hormonal and behavioral response to three stress procedures: immobilization, forced swim and conditioned emotional response (CER). We examined the effect of ipsapirone (0.1, 0.5 or 1.0 mg/kg) on plasma renin concentration (PRC), adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH), corticosterone, prolactin and defacation in rats exposed to immobilization, forced swim or CER stress. All three stressors significantly elevated all the hormone levels (P < 0.01). Immobilization-induced elevations of PRC, and corticosterone were inhibited by the highest doses of ipsapirone (0.5 and 1 mg/kg, i.p.). However, ipsapirone did not modify the immobilization-induced elevations of plasma ACTH, prolactin or defecation. Ipsapirone was relatively ineffective at reducing the endocrine responses to forced swim. Ipsapirone reduced some, but not all of the hormonal responses to CER stress. CER-induced elevations of corticosterone and prolactin were not inhibited by ipsapirone. However, the ACTH response to CER was significantly (P < 0.01) inhibited by all doses of ipsapirone and the highest dose of ipsapirone attenuated the renin response. In contrast with the hormonal responses, ipsapirone inhibited all of the behavioral responses to CER stress. Ipsapirone inhibited CER-induced freezing behavior and defecation, while dose-dependently reversing the suppressive effect of CER on exploring, grooming and rearing behaviors. In conclusion, there is a dissociation between the influence of ipsapirone on the endocrine and behavioral responses to CER stress. Ipsapirone also has differential effects on the neuroendocrine response to the three stressors studied. Ipsapirone was most effective in attenuating the hormonal responses to CER, followed by immobilization and swim stress. Of the hormones studied, the stimulation of renin secretion after exposure to the three stressors was most sensitive to ipsapirone, while corticosterone and prolactin were the least sensitive to ipsapirone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 15 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenal corticotropic hormone
  • Corticosterone
  • Ipsapirone
  • Prolactin
  • Renin
  • Serotonin
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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