Topographic comparison of the expression of norepinephrine transporter, tyrosine hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y mRNA in association with dopamine beta-hydroxylase neurons in the rabbit brainstem

Author(s): Pau KY, Ma YJ, Yu JH, Yang SP, Airhart N, et al.


In mammalian species, ovulation occurs following a massive release of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Several chemicals, including norepinephrine (NE) and neuropeptide Y (NPY), are responsible for the initiation and/or magnitude and duration of this pre-ovulatory GnRH surge. In the central nervous system, NE neural cell bodies are located in the brainstem; some are co-localized with NPY neurons and/or co-express the NE transporter (NET) gene which dictates NET protein production. The activity of NET at NE terminals is critical for synaptic NE function. In the rabbit, coitus induces a hypothalamic NE release which precedes the GnRH surge. We hypothesize that the coital stimulus is transmitted to the brainstem and transformed and integrated into GnRH-stimulating signals via NE, NET and/or NPY. However, very little is known about the distribution of cells expressing NET, NPY and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH, the rate-limiting enzyme of NE synthesis) in this species. Therefore, we utilized the sensitive in situ hybridization technique to identify the presence of these messages in conjunction with the location of NE cells, the latter being marked by dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH), the specific enzyme for NE synthesis. Three non-mated New Zealand White does were perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde and their brainstems were sectioned at 20-micron thick between 2 mm caudal to the obex and the rostral pons. Serial sections were immunohistochemically stained for DBH and hybridized with rabbit-specific TH and NET cRNAs and a human NPY probe. The data suggest that several DBH-positive areas in the medulla expressed one or more messages, i.e. the lateral tegmentum (A1) and the nucleus of the solitary tract (A2) expressed all three mRNAs, the area postrema (AP) contained NET and TH mRNAs but not NPY cells. In the pons, the locus coeruleus (LC), subnucleus of coeruleus (LCs) and lateral tegmental nuclei (A5) expressed NET and TH mRNAs but contained little or no NPY message. The distribution patterns of TH and NET appeared to be similar in the LC, LCs, A2 and AP.

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