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Endocrinology. 2007 Apr;148(4):1524-38. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and the urocortins differentially regulate catecholamine secretion in human and rat adrenals, in a CRF receptor type-specific manner.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry-Biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion GR-710 03, Crete, Greece.


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) affects catecholamine production both centrally and peripherally. The aim of the present work was to examine the presence of CRF, its related peptides, and their receptors in the medulla of human and rat adrenals and their direct effect on catecholamine synthesis and secretion. CRF, urocortin I (UCN1), urocortin II (UCN2), and CRF receptor type 1 (CRF1) and 2 (CRF2) were present in human and rat adrenal medulla as well as the PC12 pheochromocytoma cells by immunocytochemistry, immunofluorescence, and RT-PCR. Exposure of dispersed human and rat adrenal chromaffin cells to CRF1 receptor agonists induced catecholamine secretion in a dose-dependent manner, an effect peaking at 30 min, whereas CRF2 receptor agonists suppressed catecholamine secretion. The respective effects were blocked by CRF1 and CRF2 antagonists. CRF peptides affected catecholamine secretion via changes of subplasmaliminal actin filament polymerization. CRF peptides also affected catecholamine synthesis. In rat chromaffin and PC12 cells, CRF1 and CRF2 agonists induced catecholamine synthesis via tyrosine hydroxylase. However, in human chromaffin cells, activation of CRF1 receptors induced tyrosine hydroxylase, whereas activation of CRF2 suppressed it. In conclusion, it appears that a complex intraadrenal CRF-UCN/CRF-receptor system exists in both human and rat adrenals controlling catecholamine secretion and synthesis.

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