Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is found in autonomic neurones and participates in regulation of autonomic functions. To investigate the role of NPY in the stress response in normo‐ and hypertensive rats, activation of brainstem and arcuate nucleus (ARC) NPY neurones and levels of NPY mRNA in the ARC were measured in response to restraint stress in adult spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) and two strains of normotensive rats. Controls from each strain were not restrained. Sections of the brain were prepared for Fos immunohistochemistry and NPY in‐situ hybridization to identify activated NPY neurones in the nucleus of the tractus solitarii (NTS), ventrolateral medulla (VLM), and ARC. NPY mRNA levels were quantified in the ARC. In the NTS and VLM of restrained rats, 33% and 75%, respectively, of NPY neurones were activated. No differences among strains were found. In the ARC, about 36% of neurones activated by restraint contained NPY mRNA with no differences found among strains. In unrestrained rats, NPY mRNA levels were significantly elevated in SHRs compared to the normotensive rats. Restraint led to significant decreases in mRNA levels in all strains and mRNA levels among strains were no longer different from one another. These data show that NPY likely participates as a neurotransmitter in the autonomic pathways utilized during stress and originating in the NTS, VLM, and ARC. On the other hand, the decreased gene expression of NPY in the ARC in response to restraint stress argues against a role for activation of autonomic pathways or the hypothalamo‐pituitary‐adrenal (HPA) axis by NPY from the ARC of stressed rats. The elevated NPY gene expression in resting SHRs compared to normotensive rats is abrogated after restraint, suggesting that this gene is differentially regulated in SHRs compared to normotensive rats.
Journal of Neuroendocrinology – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1999
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