Role of androgens in the regulation of urotensin II precursor mRNA expression in the rat brainstem and spinal cord

  • Pelletier G
  • Lihrmann I
  • Vaudry H
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It has been reported that both urotensin II precursor (pro UII) mRNA and androgen receptors (ARs) are highly expressed in rat brainstem motor nuclei and ventral horn of the spinal cord. In order to determine the possible involvement of androgens in regulation of pro UII mRNA expression, we have studied the co-localization of pro UII mRNA and AR immunoreactivity and the effect of castration and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) replacement therapy on pro UII mRNA in the rat facial nucleus and ventral horn of the spinal cord. By in situ hybridization, pro UII mRNA was only detected in motoneurons in both the facial nucleus and ventral horn of the spinal cord. Double-labelling studies revealed that the vast majority (over 95%) of motoneurons immunostained for AR also expressed pro UII mRNA in both areas examined. Three weeks after castration, pro UII mRNA expression, as measured by semi-quantitative in situ hybridization, was increased by 17% and 58% in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the facial nucleus, respectively. The administration of DHT completely prevented the stimulating effect of castration. These results indicate that circulating androgens are exerting a down-regulation of pro UII expression possibly by a direct action at the level of motoneurons. The physiological relevance of these new findings remains to be fully explored. © 2002 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Androgen receptors
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Facial nucleus
  • Motoneurons
  • Spinal cord

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