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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Effects of corticotropin-releasing hormone on locus coeruleus neurons in vivo: a microdialysis study using a novel bilateral approach.

Asbach, S., Schutz, C. and Lehnert, H.

European Journal of Endocrinology, 145(3), 359-363 (2001).

Objective: Stress-induced release of noradrenaline (NA) from locus coeruleus (LC) neurons is mainly regulated by corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). Tyrosine is a precursor of NA and plays an intriguing role in the regulation of NA release. Design: We studied the effects of injecting CRH into the LC using a novel bilateral approach which relies on the mainly ipsilateral projections of LC neurons allowing stimulation of one hemisphere while using the other as control. To analyze the modification of the CRH effect, tyrosine was given intraperitoneally. A combination of CRH and its antagonist D-Phe was administered for validation of the specificity of CRH effects. Methods: Wistar rats were used in all experiments. Injections were made through fused silica capillaries implanted into both LCs and microdialysis samples were collected bilaterally from the prefrontal cortex (PFM) every 20 min for 1 h before and 3 h after injections. The effects of LC stimulation were investigated by determining 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) in the dialysates. Results: Following CRH injection into one LC and contralateral infusion of artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF), MHPG levels, which are indicative of NA release, increased only in the ipsilateral PFM. These effects were blocked by D-Phe. Simultaneous administration of tyrosine i.p. led to a significant prolongation of MHPG release. Conclusions: These data provide the first physiological evidence of unilateral LC projections with the bilateral stimulation design proving to be a very valuable tool for the study of LC firing rate, to decrease number of animals and time expenditure. Prolongation of MHPG release after tyrosine supplementation is most likely due to increased NA synthesis.