Differential responses of corticotropin-releasing factor and urocortin 1 to acute pain stress in the rat brain

T. Rouwette, K. Klemann, B. Gaszner, G. J. Scheffer, E. W. Roubos, W. J.J.M. Scheenen, K. Vissers, T. Kozicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


It has been hypothesized that corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and its related neuropeptide urocortin 1 (Ucn1) play different roles in the initiation and adaptive phases of the stress response, which implies different temporal dynamics of these neuropeptides in response to stressors. We have tested the hypothesis that acute pain stress (APS) differentially changes the dynamics of CRF expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN), oval subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTov) and central amygdala (CeA), and the dynamics of Ucn1 expression in the midbrain non-preganglionic Edinger-Westphal nucleus (npEW). Thirty minutes after APS, induced by a formalin injection into the left hind paw, PVN, BSTov, CeA and npEW all showed a peak in cFos mRNA expression that was followed by a robust increase in cFos protein-immunoreactivity, indicating a rapid increase in (immediate early) gene expression in all four brain nuclei. CRF-dynamics, however, were affected by APS in a brain nucleus-specific way: in the PVN, CRF-immunoreactivity was minimal at 60 min after APS and concomitant with a marked increase in plasma corticosterone, whereas in the BSTov not CRF peptide but CRF mRNA peaked at 60 min, and in the CeA a surge of CRF peptide occurred as late as 240 min. The npEW differed from the other centers, as Ucn1 mRNA and Ucn1 peptide peaked at 120 min. These results support our hypothesis that each of the four brain centers responds to APS with CRF/Ucn1 dynamics that are specific as to nature and timing. In particular, we propose that CRF in the PVN plays a major role in the initiation phase, whereas Ucn1 in the npEW may act in the later, termination phase of the adaptation response to APS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jun 2 2011


  • Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis
  • Central amygdala
  • HPA-axis
  • Hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus
  • Non-preganglionic edinger-Westphal nucleus
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential responses of corticotropin-releasing factor and urocortin 1 to acute pain stress in the rat brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this