The expression of PAC1 increases in the degenerative thymus and low dose PACAP protects female mice from cyclophosphamide induced thymus atrophy

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Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a neuropeptide with cytoprotective ability mediated by its specific receptor PAC1. In this research, firstly the thymus index and the expression of PAC1 in the normal and degenerative thymus with different gender were assayed; secondly PACAP in different dose was used to treat the female mice with cyclophosphamide (CPS) and the changes in thymus index, the expression of PAC1, histopathology, apoptosis, oxidative status and the caspase 3 activity in thymus were determined and compared. It was found that in the mice of age from 1 to 9 weeks in the stage of sex development, the thymus index was significantly higher in female mice than in male mice. And it was found for the first time that the PAC1 expression level in thymus of female mice was significantly higher than that of male mice and the expression of the PAC1 and PACAP increased significantly in the degenerative thymus induced by CPS. After PACAP was co-injected with CPS to the female mice, it was shown that only low dose (1 nmol/kg) of PACAP promoted the thymus index, inhibited the cell apoptosis, ameliorated the oxidative status and decreased the caspase activity significantly, while high dose (10 nmol/kg) of PACAP had no significant protective effects against CPS-induced thymus atrophy. It was concluded that the expression of PAC1 in the thymus changes in reverse ratio with thymus index and in direct ratio with cell apoptosis and only low dose of PACAP had positive effects against the CPS-induced thymus atrophy.

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