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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2000 Jan 10;75(1):1-7.

Effects of acute restraint stress on tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA expression in locus coeruleus of Wistar and Wistar-Kyoto rats.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78284-7764, USA.


Norepinephrine (NE) is thought to play a role in the stress response, and may be involved in stress-related psychopathological conditions such as depression or anxiety. Heterogeneity in individual responses to the same stressor suggest that a genetic susceptibility to the effects of stress may contribute to such pathology. To address possible mechanisms underlying this genetic aspect of the stress response, we examined acute stress-induced changes in mRNA expression for several components of the NE system in the locus coeruleus (LC) and adrenal medullae of stress-susceptible Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats and their parent Wistar (W) strain. Expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), NE transporter (NET) and alpha(2A) receptor mRNA were measured in the LC by in situ hybridization 30 min and 2 h after the onset of 30 min restraint stress. Adrenal TH mRNA was measured by slot blots. No basal differences were observed for any measure, but in the LC, expression of TH mRNA increased by 40% in W rats at 30 min (n=8, p<0.05) and returned toward baseline by 2 h, while WKY rats showed only a non-significant 29% increase at 2 h. In contrast, adrenal TH mRNA expression increased in WKY rats at 2 h (n=3, p<0.05), with no significant change in W rats. NET and alpha(2A) mRNA were unaltered by restraint stress in both strains. Differences in the stress-reactivity of TH gene expression in the central and peripheral noradrenergic systems may be related to differences in behavioral coping strategies and autonomic responsivity to stress in these strains, and suggest that differences in noradrenergic reactivity may contribute to genetic susceptibility to stress-related pathology.

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