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Keywords:

  • adrenal medulla;
  • corticotropin-releasing hormone;
  • CRH receptors;
  • immobilization stress;
  • urocortin 2

Abstract

The corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) family regulates the endocrine stress response. Here, we examined the effect of immobilization stress (IMO) on gene expression of adrenomedullary CRH family members. Urocortin 2 (Ucn2) has the highest basal gene expression and is increased by > 30-fold in response to single IMO and about 10-fold after six daily repeated IMO. IMO also induced a smaller rise in CRH (six-fold) and CRH receptor type 1 (CRHR1; two-fold with single IMO). The influence of glucocorticoids was examined. Dexamethasone (DEX) or corticosterone greatly increased Ucn2 mRNA levels in PC12 cells in a dose-dependent manner. The DEX elicited rise in Ucn2 was abolished by actinomycin D pre-treatment, indicating a transcriptionally mediated response. DEX also triggered a rise in CRHR1 and lowered CRH mRNA levels. In CRH-knockout mice, where the IMO-induced rise in corticosterone was attenuated, the response of IMO on Ucn2, as well as CRHR2 mRNAs was absent. Overall, the results suggest that the stress-triggered rise in glucocorticoids is involved in the large induction of Ucn2 mRNA levels by IMO, which may allow Ucn2 to act in an autocrine/paracrine fashion to modulate adrenomedullary function, or act as an endocrine hormone.