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Peripheral α2-β1 adrenergic interactions mediate the ghrelin response to brain urocortin 1 in rats


The autonomic nervous system (ANS) conveys neuronal input from the brain to the stomach. We investigated mechanisms through which urocortin 1 (UCN1) injected intracerebroventricularly (ICV, 300 pmol/rat) inhibits circulating ghrelin in rats. This was achieved by assessing (1) the induction of c-fos gene expression as a marker of neuronal activation in specific hypothalamic and caudal brainstem regulating ANS; (2) the influence of vagotomy and pharmacological blockade of central and peripheral α- and β-adrenergic receptor (AR) on ICV UCN1-induced reduction of plasma ghrelin levels (determined by ELISA); and (3) the relevance of this pathway in the feeding response to a fast in rats. UCN1 increased c-fos mRNA expression in key brain sites influencing sympathetic activity namely the hypothalamic paraventricular and ventromedial nuclei, locus coeruleus, nucleus of the solitary tract, and rostral ventrolateral medulla, by 16-, 29-, 6-, 37-, and 13-fold, respectively. In contrast, the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus had little c-fos mRNA expression and ICV UCN1 induced a similar reduction in acylated ghrelin in the sham-operated (31%) and vagotomized (41%) rats. An intraperitoneal (IP) injection of either a non-selective α- or selective α2-AR antagonist reduced, while a selective α2-AR agonist enhanced ICV UCN1-induced suppression of plasma acylated ghrelin levels. In addition, IP injection of a non-selective β- or selective β1-AR agonist blocked, and selective β1-AR antagonist augmented, the ghrelin response to ICV UCN1. The IP injections of a selective α1- or non-selective β or β2-AR antagonists, or any of the pretreatments given ICV had no effect. ICV UCN1 reduced the 2-h food intake in response to a fast by 80%, and this effect was partially prevented by a selective α2-AR antagonist. These data suggest that ICV UCN1 reduces plasma ghrelin mainly through the brain sympathetic component of the ANS and peripheral AR specifically α2-AR activation and inactivation of β1-AR. The α2-AR pathway contributes to the associated reduction in food intake.

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