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Am J Physiol. 1998 Jan;274(1 Pt 2):R38-45.

Mesolimbic expression of neurotensin and neurotensin receptor during stress-induced gastric mucosal injury.

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Department of Surgery, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey 17033, USA.


Neurotensin is a neurotransmitter present in the brain and gastrointestinal tract. Intracerebroventricular injection of neurotensin protects rats from gastric mucosal injury caused by cold water restraint (CWR). Direct injection of neurotensin into the nucleus accumbens (NACB), part of the mesolimbic dopamine system, reduces gastric mucosal injury, suggesting that neurotensin confers protection on the mucosa through interaction with the mesolimbic system. The hypothesis is that the concentration of neurotensin in the mesolimbic system decreases during CWR, affecting the expression of neurotensin and the neurotensin receptor. After 1 h of CWR, neurotensin concentration significantly decreased 41% in the NACB and returned toward control concentrations after 2 h of CWR. The concentration of neurotensin mRNA significantly decreased 46% after 1 h CWR and returned toward control after 2 h. In contrast, neurotensin binding sites in the NACB increased from 159 to 228 fmol/mg protein after 1 h of CWR and increased significantly to 280 fmol/mg protein after 2 h CWR, whereas the level of neurotensin receptor mRNA significantly decreased 51 and 50% at 1 and 2 h, respectively. These studies show that neurotensin concentration within the mesolimbic system is transiently reduced by CWR stress and that the number of neurotensin binding sites increases, presumably in response to the decrease in neurotensin.

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