In recent years a large body of evidence has emerged linking chronic stress with increased vulnerability for depression and anxiety disorders. As corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is hypersecreted under these psychological conditions, we used our CRF-overexpressing (CRF-OE) mouse line to study underlying brain mechanisms possibly causing these disorders. Urocortin (Ucn), a recently discovered member of the CRF peptide family may play a role in the pathophysiology of stress-induced disorders. Stressors recruit Ucn-immunoreactive neurons in the Edinger-Westphal nucleus (E-WN), which is the major site of Ucn expression. Furthermore, E-WN Ucn mRNA levels are upregulated in CRF-deficient mice. Based on these findings, we hypothesized the down-regulation of E-WN Ucn in CRF-OE mice and consequently, altered responsiveness to stressful stimuli. Our results support this hypothesis as we found weaker immunohistochemical labeling with anti-Ucn and a six times weaker Ucn mRNA signal in E-WN in CRF-OE mice. Moreover, E-WN Ucn-expressing neurons mounted a response to acute challenge in CRF-OE mice too. From these results it is concluded that the CRF and E-WN Ucn neuronal systems work in concert in response to acute challenges, but are inversely regulated in their activities during chronic hyperactivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2004|
- Acute ether stress
- In situ hybridization
- Quantitative Fos immunohistochemistry
ASJC Scopus subject areas