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J Mol Neurosci. 1997 Feb;8(1):45-52.

Expression of catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes, peptidylglycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase, and neuropeptide Y mRNA in the rat adrenal medulla after acute systemic nicotine.

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  • 1Burke Medical Research Institute, Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, White Plains, NY 10605, USA.


The expression of catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes in the adrenal medulla is upregulated in parallel by stress and pharmacological treatments. In this study we examined whether a neuropeptide and its processing enzyme are regulated in parallel with catecholamine enzyme genes after drug treatment. Because the main effect of stress on the adrenal medulla is via splanchnic nerve stimulation of nicotinic receptors, we used nicotine to stimulate the medulla and visualized expression of catecholamine enzyme genes, the medullary peptide neuropeptide Y (NPY), and the neuropeptide-processing enzyme peptidylglycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase (PAM) by in situ hybridization quantified by image analysis of autoradiographic images. Rats received a single injection of nicotine (0, 1, or 5 mg/kg sc). Six hours later, rats were transcardially perfused. Free-floating adrenal gland sections were hybridized with 35S-labeled cDNA probes for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH), phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT), PAM, and NPY. Nicotine treatment upregulated the expression of TH, PNMT, and NPY genes in a dose-dependent fashion. Small but nonsignificant increases were observed in DBH and PAM mRNA levels. These results suggest that common transcriptional activation mechanisms may upregulate both catecholamine and neuropeptide synthesis in the adrenal medulla after nicotinic stimulation.

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