Brief and repeated noise exposure produces different morphological and biochemical effects in noradrenaline and adrenaline cells of adrenal medulla

Marco Gesi, Paola Lenzi, Maria G. Alessandrì, Michela Ferrucci, Francesco Fornai, Antonio Paparelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Exposure to stressful stimuli is known to activate the peripheral sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal gland. In this study, we evaluated the effects of single or repeated bouts of exposure to a readily measurable stressful stimulus (loud noise) on the catecholamine content and ultrastructure of the rat adrenal medulla. In particular, we measured tissue levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and metabolites. In parallel studies, we evaluated the fine ultrastructure of catecholamine cells, including a detailed study of catecholamine granules and a morphometric analysis of adrenaline and noradrenaline medullary cells. Animals were exposed either to a single (6 h) session of loud (100 dBA) noise, or to this noise stimulus repeated every day for 21 consecutive days. There was a marked correlation between biochemical indexes of catecholamine activity and the ultrastructural morphometry of specific catecholamine granules. Exposure to loud noise for 6 h induced a parallel increase in dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and their metabolites, a polarization and an increased numerical density of noradrenaline and adrenaline granules in the cells. After repeated noise exposure, noradrenaline levels were significantly higher than in controls, and adrenaline decreased significantly. In addition, adrenaline cells also exhibited ultrastructural alterations consisting of wide homogeneous cytoplasmic areas and large, pale vesicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002



  • Adrenal medulla
  • Adrenaline
  • Catecholamine
  • Noise exposure
  • Noradrenaline
  • Ultrastructural morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anatomy

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