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Neuroscience. 2010 May 19;167(3):909-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.02.060. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

Involvement of microglial cells in infrasonic noise-induced stress via upregulated expression of corticotrophin releasing hormone type 1 receptor.

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Department of Neurology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, PR China.


Infrasound is a kind of environmental noise and threatens the public health as a nonspecific biological stressor. Upregulated expression of corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and its receptor CRH-R1 in the neurons of hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) was reported to be responsible for infrasonic noise-induced stress and injuries. Recent studies revealed that CRH-R1 is expressed in activated microglial cells, lending support to the hypothesis that microglial cells may be also responsible for infrasonic noise-induced stress. In this work, we exposed Sprague-Dawley rats and in vitro cultured microglial cells to infrasound with a main frequency of 16 Hz and a sound pressure level of 130 dB for 2 h, and examined the changes in the expression of CRH-R1 at different time points after infrasound exposure by immunohistochemistry and semi-quantitative RT-PCR. We found that infrasound exposure resulted in a significant activation of microglia cells and upregulated their expression of CRH-R1 in the PVN in vivo. Upregulated expression of CRH-R1 can be blocked by antalarmin, a selective CRH-R1 antagonist. Our in vitro data further revealed that in the absence of neurons, infrasound can directly induce microglial activation and upregulate their CRH-R1 expression. These findings suggest that in addition to the PVN neurons, microglial cells are the effector cells for infrasound as well, and involve in the infrasound-induced stress through upregulated expression of CRH-R1.

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