Date of Award

Spring 1988

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Margaret L. Till

Committee Member

Lloyd Wolfinbarger, Jr.

Committee Member

Samuel Bieber

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 R6


Two investigations were conducted to determine the effects of maternally administered ethanol and caffeine on neonatal adrenocortical function. In the ethanol study, pregnant female rats were fed a liquid diet in which 35% of the sucrose calories were removed and replaced with ethanol. Dams in the caffeine study were injected with 25 mg/kg/day caffeine in saline solution. Within 24 hours of parturition, neonatal rats in both studies were sacrificed. The adrenal glands were incubated in vitro for one hour and media were analyzed for corticosterone content. Significant adrenal weight differences were found in both studies. The ethanol group pups were significantly larger than controls; this was probably due to a smaller litter size. In the caffeine study, no significant differences in neonatal pup weights were observed. In the alcohol study, differences in corticosterone secretion due to ethanol were not clearly defined. In the caffeine study, adrenals had reduced corticosterone secretion. Glands in both studies respond to ACTH with significant increases in secretion. Plasma corticosterone levels did not have clearly defined differences in either study.

In the caffeine study, caffeine exposed pups had a higher basal corticosterone secretory rate than saline animals. Similar increases were seen in ACTH-stimulated adrenals, as well as in plasma corticosterone levels. ACTH-stimulation resulted in significant increases in corticosterone secretory rates.


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