The California mouse, Peromyscus californicus, is an increasingly popular animal model in behavioral, neural, and endocrine studies, but little is known about its baseline hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity or HPA responses to stressors. We characterized plasma corticosterone (CORT) concentrations in P. californicus under baseline conditions across the diurnal cycle, in response to pharmacological manipulation of the HPA axis, and in response to a variety of stressors at different times of day. In addition, we explored the use of fecal samples to monitor adrenocortical activity non-invasively. California mice have very high baseline levels of circulating CORT that change markedly over 24 h, but that do not differ between the sexes. This species may be somewhat glucocorticoid-resistant in comparison to other rodents as a relatively high dose of dexamethasone (5 mg/kg, s.c.) was required to suppress plasma CORT for 8 h post-injection. CORT responses to stressors and ACTH injection differed with time of day, as CORT concentrations were elevated more readily during the morning (inactive period) than in the evening (active period) when compared to time-matched control. Data from 3H-CORT injection studies show that the time course for excretion of fecal CORT, or glucocorticoid metabolites, differs with time of injection. Mice injected in the evening excreted the majority of fecal radioactivity 2-4 h post-injection whereas mice injected during the morning did so at 14-16 h post-injection. Unfortunately, the antibody we used does not adequately bind the most prevalent fecal glucocorticoid metabolites and therefore we could not validate its use for fecal assays.
- Diurnal rhythm
- Fecal glucocorticoid metabolites
- HPA axis
- Peromyscus californicus