About this item:

19 Views | 0 Downloads

Author Notes:

Gretchen N. Neigh, Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1101 E. Marshall St, Voice: (804) 628-5152, Fax: (804) 828-9477, gretchen.mccandless@vcuhealth.org.

The authors would like to thank Sabina Khantsis for her assistance with the RIA.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NR014886 and MH110364 to GNN; T32-GM008602 to SAR).


  • Social Sciences
  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Psychology, Biological
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Corticosterone
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Forced swim stress
  • Rat
  • Female

Measuring corticosterone concentrations over a physiological dynamic range in female rats


Journal Title:

Physiology and Behavior


Volume 194


, Pages 73-76

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Accurate assessment of plasma corticosterone, the primary stress hormone in rodents, is an essential part of characterizing the stress response in experimental animals. To this end, both enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and radioimmunoassay (RIA) remain widely used. However, considerable assay-specific variability exists among commercially available corticosterone assays due to differing assay principles, detection methods, range, and sensitivity. While technical comparisons of commercially available corticosterone assays have previously been conducted, the ability to detect acute stress-induced endocrine changes has not been compared among these methods to date. Using the forced swim test, a commonly utilized behavioral paradigm in rodents as a physiologically-relevant acute stress challenge, we compared four commercial corticosterone assays – three ELISA kits and one RIA kit – in their ability to detect corticosterone across a dynamic range of both baseline and acute swim stress-driven concentrations. While all methods yielded results that were consistent at measuring relative differences between samples, only two of the four assays evaluated detected a statistically significant increase in corticosterone in rats exposed to acute swim stress compared to rats at baseline. The ELISA kit from Enzo Life Sciences demonstrated the greatest percent increase in plasma corticosterone from baseline to acute stress conditions. The RIA kit from MP Biomedicals also detected a significant corticosterone increase and yielded higher concentrations of corticosterone both at baseline and in the acute stress condition relative to the other three assays. We conclude that choice of assay can impact interpretation of data due to differences in efficacy across a dynamic range of physiological concentrations of corticosterone.

Copyright information:

© 2018 Elsevier Inc.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Creative Commons License

Export to EndNote