The concordance of pulsatile ultradian release of adrenocorticotropin and cortisol in male rhesus monkeys

Zoltán Sarnyai, Johannes D. Veldhuis, Nancy K. Mello, Jack H. Mendelson, Monika Erös-Sarnyai, Greg Mercer, Howard Gelles, Maureen Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The ultradian release of ACTH and cortisol was investigated in six male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) with an intensive (2-min) blood-sampling procedure to investigate micropulsatile hormone secretory patterns. A sensitive and specific immunoradiometric assay was used to measure plasma ACTH concentrations. An objective pulse detection algorithm (Cluster) was used to assess the pulsatility of ACTH and cortisol release. The temporally coincident release of ACTH and cortisol was also examined. Venous blood samples were collected (over <15 s) every 2 min for 120 min beginning at 1300 h. The number of ACTH peaks (3.2 peaks/h), interpulse intervals (19 ± 2.4 min), and pulse amplitudes (9.7 ± 1.6 pmol/L) in rhesus monkey were similar to corresponding measures of ACTH release in humans (3.3 peaks/h, 18 ± 0.8 min, and 4.7 ± 1.0 pmol/L, respectively). The number of cortisol peaks (2.3 peaks/h), interpulse interval (26 ± 8.6 min), and other characteristics of pulsatile cortisol release were also determined. There was a 32.4% exact concordance of ACTH with cortisol peaks (11 of 34; P < 0.001). Fifty-six percent of ACTH peaks (19 of 34) were followed by a cortisol peak within 10 min (P < 0.02). There was a significant correlation between the ACTH and coincident cortisol pulse amplitudes (P < 0.0001). The amplitudes of ACTH peaks coincident with cortisol peaks at 0 min time lag were significantly higher than ACTH peaks not temporally coupled with cortisol peaks. Our data indicate that 1) high frequency, low amplitude micro-pulsatile ACTH secretion in rhesus monkeys is very similar to the high frequency ACTH rhythm in humans; 2) temporally concordant ACTH and cortisol release episodes may be amplitude coupled; and 3) an adequate incremental ACTH pulse amplitude may elicit a concurrent cortisol release episode from the adrenal cortex. These data suggest that the rhesus monkey is a potentially useful model for the study of neuroendocrine control of ACTH release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-59
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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