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      Urocortin and Inflammation: Confounding Effects of Hypotension on Measures of Inflammation

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          Urocortin, a newly isolated 40-amino-acid mammalian peptide homologous to corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), activates both CRH type 1 and 2 receptors, but may be an endogenous ligand for CRH receptor type 2. Urocortin given systemically inhibited heat-induced paw edema in the rat, and was therefore ascribed anti-inflammatory properties. We examined the effects of urocortin in the carrageenin-induced subcutaneous inflammation model. Rats were treated with urocortin 200 (n = 6) or 20 nmol/kg (n = 6); inflammatory exudates were reduced by approximately 30% compared to controls (n = 7) at both doses. However, since subcutaneous urocortin has been shown to reduce arterial blood pressure, we tested the hypothesis that its antiedema and antiextravasatory effects were secondary to arterial hypotension. Therefore, we examined the parallel effects of urocortin- and hydralazine-induced hypotension on acute inflammation induced by carrageenin in the rat. Rats were treated with subcutaneous carrageenin and control injections (n = 8), carrageenin and urocortin (20 nmol/kg, n = 9), or carrageenin and intraperitoneal hydralazine (10 mg/kg, n = 8). Mean arterial blood pressure was measured hourly for 7 h in 12 animals, and after 2 h, the nadir of treatment, in a further 13 animals. Rats were then sacrificed, and the inflammatory exudate volume and leukocyte count were measured. Mean exudate volumes were reduced from 4.8 ± 0.5 ml (controls) to 2.4 ± 0.3 ml (p = 0.004) and 2.9 ± 0.6 ml (p = 0.007) in urocortin- and hydralazine-treated animals, respectively. Urocortin and hydralazine both produced a significant fall in blood pressure compared to controls, with mean arterial pressure 2 h after carrageenin injection falling to 51.0 ± 4.1 (p < 0.001) and 34.6 ± 4.6 (p < 0.001) vs. 92.9 ± 3.7 mm Hg in controls, respectively. A significant positive correlation was noted between blood pressure and inflammatory exudate volume (r = 0.52, p = 0.007). As both hydralazine and urocortin lowered blood pressure and inflammatory exudate volume, we suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of urocortin and related neuropeptides may be nonspecific, acting through hypotension rather than through direct anti-inflammatory mechanisms. The use of inflammatory models which rely on extravasation may be inappropriate for the study of substances that produce hypotension.

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          Urocortin, a mammalian neuropeptide related to fish urotensin I and to corticotropin-releasing factor.

          Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a peptide first isolated from mammalian brain, is critical in the regulation of the pituitary-adrenal axis, and in complementary stress-related endocrine, autonomic and behavioural responses. Fish urotensin I and amphibian sauvagine were considered to be homologues of CRF until peptides even more closely related to CRF were identified in these same vertebrate classes. We have characterized another mammalian member of the CRF family and have localized its urotensin-like immunoreactivity to, and cloned related complementary DNAs from, a discrete rat midbrain region. The deduced protein encodes a peptide that we name urocortin, which is related to urotensin (63% sequence identity) and CRF (45% sequence identity). Synthetic urocortin evokes secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) both in vitro and in vivo and binds and activates transfected type-1 CRF receptors, the subtype expressed by pituitary corticotropes. The coincidence of urotensin-like immunoreactivity with type-2 CRF receptors in brain, and our observation that urocortin is more potent than CRF at binding and activating type-2 CRF receptors, as well as at inducing c-Fos (an index of cellular activation) in regions enriched in type-2 CRF receptors, indicate that this new peptide could be an endogenous ligand for type-2 CRF receptors.
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            Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) has a peripheral site of action for antinociception


              Author and article information

              S. Karger AG
              June 1999
              16 April 1999
              : 6
              : 3
              : 182-186
              Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md., USA
              26380 Neuroimmunomodulation 1999;6:182–186
              © 1999 S. Karger AG, Basel

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              Figures: 3, References: 16, Pages: 5
              Original Paper


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