Peripheral secretin-induced Fos expression in the rat brain is largely vagal dependent.Neuroscience 2004; 128(1):131-41N
I.v. injection of secretin activates neurons in brain areas controlling autonomic function and emotion. Peripheral administration of secretin inhibits gastric functions through a central mechanism that is mediated by vagal dependent pathways. We investigated whether the vagus nerve is involved in i.p. injection of secretin-induced brain neuronal activation in conscious rats as monitored by Fos immunohistochemistry. Secretin (40 or 100 microg/kg, i.p., 90 min) induced a dose-related increase in the number of Fos positive neurons in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), and a plateau Fos response in the area postrema (AP), nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), locus coeruleus (LC), Barrington's nucleus (Bar), external lateral subnucleus of parabrachial nucleus (PBel) and arcuate nucleus, and at 100 microg/kg, in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) compared with i.p. injection of vehicle. Double immunohistochemistry showed that secretin (40 microg/kg, i.p.) activates tyrosine hydroxylase neurons in the NTS. Subdiaphragmatic vagotomy (7 days) abolished Fos expression-induced by i.p. secretin (40 microg/kg) in the NTS, DMV, LC, Bar, PBel and CeA, while a significant rise in the AP was maintained. In contrast, s.c. capsaicin (10 days) did not influence the Fos induction in the above nuclei. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and quantitative real-time PCR showed that secretin receptor mRNA is expressed in the nodose ganglia and levels were higher in the right compared with the left ganglion. These results indicate that peripheral secretin activates catecholaminergic NTS neurons as well as neurons in medullary, pontine and limbic nuclei regulating autonomic functions and emotion through vagal-dependent capsaicin-resistant pathways. Secretin injected i.p. may signal to the brain by interacting with secretin receptors on vagal afferent as well as on AP neurons outside the blood-brain barrier.