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Neuroscience. 2008 Oct 28;156(4):1093-102. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.08.011. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

Noradrenergic inputs to the paraventricular hypothalamus contribute to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and central Fos activation in rats after acute systemic endotoxin exposure.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


Noradrenergic (NA) neurons within the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST) and caudal ventrolateral medulla (VLM) innervate the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) to initiate and modulate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses to interoceptive stress. Systemic endotoxin (i.e. bacterial lipopolysaccharide, LPS) activates NA neurons within the NST and VLM that project to the PVN and other brain regions that receive interoceptive signals. The present study examined whether NA neurons with axonal inputs to the PVN are necessary for LPS to activate Fos expression within the PVN and other interoceptive-related brain regions, and to increase plasma corticosterone. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received bilateral stereotaxic microinjections of DSAP (saporin toxin conjugated to an antibody against dopamine-beta-hydroxylase, DbH) into the PVN to destroy NA inputs. Control rats were microinjected with vehicle into the PVN or received no PVN injections. Two weeks later, DSAP and control rats were injected i.p. with LPS (200 microg/kg BW) or saline vehicle, and perfused with fixative 2.5-3 h later. Brain tissue sections were processed to reveal nuclear Fos protein and cytoplasmic DbH immunolabeling. DSAP lesions depleted NA terminals in the PVN and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, reduced the number of NA cell bodies in the NST and VLM, attenuated PVN Fos activation after LPS, and attenuated LPS-induced increases in plasma corticosterone. These findings support the view that NA projections from hindbrain to hypothalamus are necessary for a full HPA axis response to systemic immune challenge.

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