Phenotype of neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract that express CCK-induced activation of the ERK signaling pathway.

Research paper by Tanja T Babic, R Leigh RL Townsend, Laurel M LM Patterson, Gregory M GM Sutton, Huiyuan H Zheng, Hans-Rudolf HR Berthoud

Indexed on: 30 Jan '09Published on: 30 Jan '09Published in: American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology


The satiating potency of CCK has been well characterized, including its mediation by capsaicin-sensitive vagal primary afferents. We have previously shown that peripherally administered CCK activates the MAPK-signaling cascade in a population of nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) neurons and that preventing ERK1/2 phosphorylation partly attenuates CCK's satiating potency. The aim of this study was to identify the neurochemical phenotypes of the NTS neurons that exhibit CCK-induced activation of ERK1/2. Using confocal microscopy, we demonstrate that intraperitoneal CCK administration increases the number of neurons that express phosphorylated ERK1/2 (pERK1/2) in the medial and commissural subnuclei of the NTS and that CCK-induced expression of ERK1/2 is increased in tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive neurons. Using Western blot analysis, we show that the robust increase in tyrosine hydroxylase phosphorylation obtained with intraperitoneal CCK is significantly attenuated in rats pretreated with the ERK-pathway blocker U0126 injected into the 4th ventricle. In addition, CCK injections increased pERK1/2 expression in POMC neurons in the NTS. In contrast, only the rare GAD67, neuronal nitric oxide synthase, and leptin-responsive neuron exhibited CCK-induced pERK immunoreactivity. We conclude that activation of POMC-immunoreactive neurons and tyrosine hydroxylase activity via the ERK-signaling pathway in the NTS likely contributes to CCK's satiating effects.