Distribution of urocortin-like immunoreactivity in the central nervous system of the rat

Tamás Kozicz, Hitoshi Yanaihara, Akira Arimura

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221 Scopus citations


Urocortin was recently cloned from the rat midbrain. Urocortin is a member of the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) peptide family and shows 45% sequence identity to CRF and 63% sequence identity to urotensin. It binds with a high affinity to CRF1 and CRF2 receptors, resulting in the stimulation of their adenylate cyclase activity. We used a polyclonal antibody against rat urocortin to define the distribution of urocortin-like immunoreactivity in the rat central nervous system. Several immunostained cell bodies were found in the supraoptic, paraventricular, and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei. A large number of neurons with urocortin-like immunoreactivity were seen in the dorsolateral tegmental nucleus, in the linear and dorsal raphe nuclei, and in the substantia nigra. The most abundant immunoreactive (ir) perikarya were found in the Edinger-Westphal nucleus. Some neurons showed immunoreactivity in the interstitial nucleus of Cajal, the nucleus of Darkeschewitsch, and the periaqueductal gray. A dense immunoreactive fiber network was found in the lateral septal area. Some faintly stained axon terminals were observed among urocortin-ir perikarya in the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei, in the central and periaqueductal gray, and in the Edinger-Westphal nucleus. No fibers with urocortin-ir were seen in the median eminence or the posterior pituitary. The distribution of urocortin-ir overlapped with the expression of the mRNA for the CRF2 receptor in several brain areas. These data support the hypothesis that this peptide is the endogenous ligand for the CRF2 receptor. Urocortin has been implicated in various endocrine responses, such as blood pressure regulation, as well as in higher cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2 1998


  • CRF
  • CRF receptor
  • Edinger-Westphal nucleus
  • Sauvagine
  • Urotensin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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