Intracerebroventricular porcine corticotropin-releasing hormone and cortisol effects on pig immune measures and behavior

Janeen L. Salak-Johnson, John J. McGlone, C. Scott Whisnant, Reid L. Norman, Robert R. Kraeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of porcine corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH) and cortisol on the immune system and behavior were examined in domestic pigs. In Experiment 1, 50 μg of pCRH in 200 μl of saline or 200 μl of vehicle was administered ICV at 0600 h. Blood samples were obtained at 0600 (prior to injection), 0700, and 0800 h. Plasma cortisol concentrations were higher at 1 and 2 h after pCRH than after saline. Generally, pCRH failed to effect NK cytotoxicity or lymphocyte proliferation in response to phytohemagluttin (PHA). However, 1 h postinjection, pigs administered pCRH ICV had marginally lower NK activity than control pigs. Pigs injected with pCRH had substantially lower neutrophil chemotaxis (CHTX) than the control pigs at 1 and 2 h postinjection. As blood cortisol concentration increased, neutrophil CHTX decreased. Pigs injected ICV with pCRH had higher neutrophil numbers and neutrophil:lymphocyte ratios than control pigs. Percentage of lymphocytes was higher among control than treated pigs. Central pCRH increased overall activity, particularly walking, standing, licking, rooting, and increased activity-related sequences (e.g., sit, walk and stand, walk), but reduced complex oral/nasal sequences (e.g., root, lick). In Experiment 2, pigs were injected ICV with 10 μg of cortisol in 200 μl of saline or with vehicle at 0600 h. Administration of cortisol failed to effect NK cytotoxicity, lymphocyte proliferation, CHTX, or leukocyte distribution. Pigs given cortisol had no apparent change in behavior. These data indicate leukocyte distribution and specific neutrophil function in pigs were significantly modulated by stress-related hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and complexity of behavioral sequences (pigs repeating certain behavioral sequences) associated with increased activity was reduced. Oral/nasal stereotypies (as seen among confined sows) were not elevated among pigs given ICV pCRH. CRH given by ICV administration may serve as a better model for acute rather than chronic stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior Immunity
  • CRH
  • Pigs
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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