Metyrapone-induced glucocorticoid depletion modulates tyrosine hydroxylase and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase gene expression in the rat adrenal gland by a noncholinergic transsynaptic activation

Laborie, C.; Van Camp, G.; Bernet, F.; Montel, V.; Dupouy, J.P.

Journal of Neuroendocrinology 15(1): 15-23


ISSN/ISBN: 0953-8194
PMID: 12535165
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2826.2003.00859.x
Accession: 010981119

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The hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone system and the sympathetic nervous system are anatomically and functionally interconnected and hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis contribute to the regulation of catecholaminergic systems. To investigate the role of glucocorticoids on activity of the adrenal gland, we analysed plasma and adrenal catecholamines, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) mRNA expression in rats injected with metyrapone or dexamethasone. Metyrapone-treated rats had significantly lower epinephrine and higher norepinephrine production than control rats. Metyrapone increased TH protein synthesis and TH mRNA expression whereas its administration did not affect PNMT mRNA expression. Dexamethasone restored plasma and adrenal epinephrine concentrations and increased PNMT mRNA levels, which is consistent with an absolute requirement of glucocorticoids for PNMT expression. Adrenal denervation completely abolished the metyrapone-induced TH mRNA expression. Blockage of cholinergic neurotransmission by nicotinic or muscarinic receptor antagonists did not prevent the metyrapone-induced rise in TH mRNA. Finally, pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) adrenal content was not affected by metyrapone. These results provide evidence that metyrapone-induced corticosterone depletion elicits transsynaptic TH activation, implying noncholinergic neurotransmission. This may involve neuropeptides other than PACAP.