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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1997 Apr;281(1):163-72.

Activation of the locus coeruleus noradrenergic system by intracoerulear microinfusion of corticotropin-releasing factor: effects on discharge rate, cortical norepinephrine levels and cortical electroencephalographic activity.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Allegheny University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102-1192, USA.


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) administered intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) activates noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) neurons of halothane-anesthetized and unanesthetized rats. This study used a technique for microinfusing CRF into the LC from calibrated micropipettes to characterize and quantify the effects of locally administered CRF on LC discharge in halothane-anesthetized rats. CRF (3-100 ng) microinfusion into the LC increased discharge rate in a dose-dependent manner from 28 +/- 8 to 105 +/- 26% above preinfusion discharge rates. The CRF dose-response curve generated by local microinfusion was parallel to, and shifted approximately 200-fold to the left, of that generated by i.c.v. administration. Intracoerulear microinfusion of the CRF antagonist, [DPhe12,Nle(21,38),CalphaMeLeu37]r/hCRF(12-41), greatly attenuated LC activation produced by a maximally effective dose of i.c.v. administered CRF, suggesting that these effects are primarily due to actions within the LC. In rats in which both LC discharge rate and norepinephrine levels in prefrontal cortex were measured by in vivo microdialysis, CRF microinfused into the LC increased both endpoints. Finally, LC activation produced by CRF (60 ng) microinfusion into the LC was associated with cortical electroencephalographic activation. Taken together with previous anatomical and electrophysiological evidence for endogenous CRF interactions in the LC, our results support the hypothesis that CRF serves as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the LC, and suggest that its actions on LC neurons are translated to enhanced norepinephrine release and an impact on cortical targets.

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