Activation of Early Genes in Hypothalamic Neurons
Differential Responses of Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone (TRH) Neurons to Cold Exposure or Suckling Indicate Functional Heterogeneity of the TRH System in the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Rat HypothalamusSánchez E.a · Uribe R.M.a · Corkidi G.a · Zoeller R.T.b · Cisneros M.a · Zacarias M.a · Morales-Chapa C.a · Charli J.-L.a · Joseph-Bravo P.a
aDepartmento Genética y Fisiología Molecular, Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca/Mor., México and bMorril Science Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., USA
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Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is released from the median eminence upon neural stimulation such as cold or suckling exposure. Concomitant with the cold- or suckling-induced release of TRH is a rapid and transient increase in the expression of proTRH mRNA in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. We employed two strategies to determine whether TRH neurons responding to cold exposure are different from those responding to suckling. First, we attempted to identify a marker of cellular activation in TRH neurons of the PVN. Cold induced c-fos expression in about 25% of TRH neurons of the PVN, but no induction was observed by suckling. Moreover, we explored the expression of a variety of immediate early genes including NGFI-A, fra-1 and c-jun, or CREB phosphorylation but found none to be induced by suckling. The number of cells expressing high levels of proTRH mRNA was counted and compared to total expressing cells. An increased number of cells expressing high levels of proTRH mRNA was observed when both stimuli were applied to the same animal, suggesting that different cells respond separately to each stimulus. We therefore analyzed the distribution of responsive TRH neurons as defined by the cellular level of proTRH mRNA. The proTRH mRNA signal was analyzed within three rostrocaudal zones of the PVN and within six mediolateral columns. Results showed that in response to cold, all areas of the PVN of the lactating rat present increased proTRH mRNA levels, including the anterior zone where few hypophysiotropic TRHergic cells are believed to reside. The distribution of the proTRH mRNA expressing cells in response to cold was quite comparable in female and in male rats. In contrast, the response after suckling was confined to the middle and caudal zones. Our results provide evidence of a functional specialization of TRH cells in the PVN.
© 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel
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