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Modulation of Catecholamine-Synthesizing Enzymes in the Rat Heart by Repeated Immobilization Stress


Address for correspondence: Dr. Lucia Micutkova, Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Vlarska 3, 833 06 Bratislava, Slovak Republic. Voice: 004212 54774101; fax: 004212 54774908. e-mail:


Abstract: Stress is one of the major risk factors responsible for the increased incidence of a number of common life-threatening disorders, predominantly of cardiovascular origin. The aim of the present study was to establish the effect of repeated immobilization stress on gene expression and protein levels of aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) in cardiac left and right atria. In the process of repeated immobilization, rats were immobilized 2 h daily for 7 days and killed 3 h after the last immobilization. Gene expression was determined by regular and real-time reverse transcription with subsequent polymerase chain reaction, and protein levels were determined by Western blot analysis. In cardiac atria, we identified mRNA for AADC and PNMT. Repeated immobilization stress did not affect AADC mRNA levels. However, repeated immobilization significantly increased PNMT mRNA levels compared with unstressed control animals. No further increase was observed compared with adapted control rats (rats immobilized six times for 2 h daily and decapitated 24 h after the sixth immobilization). AADC protein levels corresponded with mRNA levels of this enzyme. However, we were not able to detect PNMT immunoreactive protein. The observed elevation in the gene expression of PNMT mRNA levels in the heart may be involved in the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases with stress.