Neurotransmitter regulation of c-fos and vasopressin gene expression in the rat supraoptic nucleus

Makoto Kawasaki, Todd A. Ponzio, Chunmei Yue, Raymond L. Fields, Harold Gainer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Acute increases in plasma osmotic pressure produced by intraperitoneal injection of hypertonic NaCl are sensed by osmoreceptors in the brain, which excite the magnocellular neurons (MCNs) in the supraoptic nucleus (SON) and the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) in the hypothalamus inducing the secretion of vasopressin (VP) into the general circulation. Such systemic osmotic stimulation also causes rapid and transient increases in the gene expression of c-fos and VP in the MCNs. In this study we evaluated potential signals that might be responsible for initiating these gene expression changes during acute hyperosmotic stimulation. We use an in vivo paradigm in which we stereotaxically deliver putative agonists and antagonists over the SON unilaterally, and use the contralateral SON in the same rat, exposed only to vehicle solutions, as the control SON. Quantitative real time-PCR was used to compare the levels of c-fos mRNA, and VP mRNA and VP heteronuclear (hn)RNA in the SON. We found that the ionotropic glutamate agonists (NMDA plus AMPA) caused an approximately 6-fold increase of c-fos gene expression in the SON, and some, but not all, G-coupled protein receptor agonists (e.g., phenylephrine, senktide, a NK-3-receptor agonist, and α-MSH) increased the c-fos gene expression in the SON from between 1.5 to 2-fold of the control SONs. However, none of these agonists were effective in increasing VP hnRNA as is seen with acute salt-loading. This indicates that the stimulus-transcription coupling mechanisms that underlie the c-fos and VP transcription increases during acute osmotic stimulation differ significantly from one another.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-222
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • ALZET osmotic minipump
  • Convection enhanced delivery
  • Hyperosmotic stimulation
  • Hypothalamus
  • Quantitative real time PCR
  • Supraoptic nucleus
  • Vasopressin heteronuclear RNA
  • c-fos mRNA

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