Neuropeptide Y Activates Urocortin 1 Neurons in the Nonpreganglionic Edinger-Westphal Nucleus

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Abstract

Central regulatory pathways promoting stress adaptation utilize various neurotransmitters/neuropeptides, such as urocortin 1 (Ucn1) and neuropeptide Y (NPY). Ucn1 is abundantly expressed in the nonpreganglionic Edinger-Westphal nucleus (npEW), where it is codistributed with NPY-immunoreactive (ir) terminals. A special role for both neuropeptides has been postulated in stress adaptation. Using double-labeling immunohistochemistry, we observed close appositions between NPY-ir terminals and neurons immunoreactive for Ucn1 in the rat, as well as in the human npEW. Therefore, we hypothesized that NPY might control the activity of Ucn1-positive neurons in the npEW. To test this hypothesis, NPY was injected into the lateral cerebral ventricle of rats, resulting in a strong activation of npEW Ucn1 neurons as revealed by Fos immunohistochemistry. Ucn1 mRNA was also upregulated in the npEW 2 hours after the injection of NPY. In a search for the type of NPY receptor that mediates this NPY-induced recruitment of npEW-Ucn1 cells, we found that the great majority of Ucn1 cells exhibited NPY Y5 receptor immunoreactivity, and only a few of the Ucn1 cells coexpressed the Y1 receptor. We concluded that NPY, via NPY Y5 and to a lesser extent via the Y1 receptors, exerts a stimulatory action on Ucn1 cells in the npEW. Further studies are currently in progress to elucidate the significance of this NPY–Ucn1 interaction in the npEW. J. Comp. Neurol. 500:708–719, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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