Increased Hypothalamic Levels of Endozepines, Endogenous Ligands of Benzodiazepine Receptors, in a Rat Model of Sepsis

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Abstract

Background:

The mechanisms involved in septic anorexia are mainly related to the secretion of inflammatory cytokines. The term endozepines designates a family of neuropeptides, including the octadecaneuropeptide (ODN), originally isolated as endogenous ligands of benzodiazepine receptors. Previous data showed that ODN, produced and released by astrocytes, is a potent anorexigenic peptide. We have studied the effect of sepsis by means of a model of cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) on the hypothalamic expression of endozepines (DBI mRNA and protein levels), as well as on the level of neuropeptides controlling energy homeostasis mRNAs: pro-opiomelanocortin, neuropeptide Y, and corticotropin-releasing hormone. In addition, we have investigated the effects of two inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α and IL-1β, on DBI mRNA levels in cultured rat astrocytes.

Methods:

Studies were performed on Sprague-Dawley male rats and on cultures of rat cortical astrocytes. Sepsis was induced using the CLP method. Sham-operated control animals underwent the same procedure, but the cecum was neither ligated nor incised.

Results:

Sepsis caused by CLP evoked an increase of DBI mRNA levels in ependymal cells bordering the third ventricle and in tanycytes of the median eminence. CLP-induced sepsis was also associated with stimulated ODN-like immunoreactivity (ODN-LI) in the hypothalamus. In addition, TNF-α, but not IL-1β, induced a dose-dependent increase in DBI mRNA in cultured rat astrocytes. An increase in the mRNA encoding the precursor of the anorexigenic peptide α-melanocyte stimulating hormone, the pro-opiomelanocortin, and the corticotropin-releasing hormone was observed in the hypothalamus.

Conclusion:

These results suggest that during sepsis, hypothalamic mRNA encoding endozepines, anorexigenic peptide as well as stress hormone could play a role in the anorexia/cachexia associated with inflammation due to sepsis and we suggest that this hypothalamic mRNA expression could involve TNF-α.

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