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J Neurosci. 2000 Dec 1;20(23):8868-75.

Purinergic and adrenergic agonists synergize in stimulating vasopressin and oxytocin release.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Finch University of Health Sciences, The Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, Illinois 60064, USA.


The A1 catecholamine neurons of the caudal ventrolateral medulla transmit hemodynamic information to the vasopressin (VP) neurons in the hypothalamus. These neurons corelease ATP with norepinephrine. Perifused explants of the hypothalamoneurohypophyseal system were used to investigate the role of these substances on VP release. ATP (100 micrometer) increased VP release 1.5-fold (p = 0.027). The response was rapid but unsustained. It was blocked by the P(2) receptor antagonist pyridoxal-phosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulphonic acid (PPADS). The alpha(1)-adrenergic agonist phenylephrine (PE; 100 micrometer) also increased VP release by 1.5-fold (p = 0.014). Again, the response was rapid and unsustained. However, simultaneous perifusion of explants with ATP (100 micrometer) and PE (100 micrometer) resulted in a threefold to fourfold increase in VP release, which was sustained for as long as 4 hr. There was a similar synergistic effect of ATP and PE on oxytocin release. Interestingly, the synergistic response was delayed approximately 40 min relative to the response to either agent alone. Several experiments were performed to elucidate the cellular mechanisms of this synergism. The effect was blocked by PPADS, a protein kinase C inhibitor (bisindolylmaleimide I HCl), and actinomycin, an inhibitor of gene transcription. These data suggest that P(2X) receptor activation, PKC-mediated phosphorylation, and gene transcription are required for the synergistic response. The marked synergism of these coreleased agents is probably important to achieve sustained increases in plasma VP in response to prolonged hypotension. These observations may also have broad applications to CNS function, because ATP may be coreleased at noradrenergic synapses throughout the CNS.

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