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Modulatory effect of long-term treatment with escitalopram and clonazepam on the expression of anxiety-related neuropeptides: neuromedin U, neuropeptide S and their receptors in the rat brain

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  • Aneta Piwowarczyk-Nowak
  • Artur Pałasz
  • Katarzyna Bogus
  • Marek Krzystanek
  • Iwona Błaszczyk
  • John J. Worthington
  • Aniela Grajoszek
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Molecular Biology Reports
Issue number9
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)9041-9049
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/06/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


BACKGROUND: Newly identified multifunctional peptidergic modulators of stress responses: neuromedin U (NMU) and neuropeptide S (NPS) are involved in the wide spectrum of brain functions. However, there are no reports dealing with potential molecular relationships between the action of diverse anxiolytic or antidepressant drugs and NMU and NPS signaling in the brain. The present work was therefore focused on local expression of the aforementioned stress-related neuropeptides in the rat brain after long-term treatment with escitalopram and clonazepam.

METHODS: Studies were carried out on adult, male Sprague-Dawley rats that were divided into 3 groups: animals injected with saline (control) and experimental individuals treated with escitalopram (at single dose 5 mg/kg daily), and clonazepam (at single dose 0.5 mg/kg). All individuals were sacrificed under anaesthesia and the whole brain excised. Total mRNA was isolated from homogenized samples of amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum and brainstem. Real time-PCR method was used for estimation of related NPS, NPS receptor (NPSR), NMU, NMU and receptor 2 (NMUR2) mRNA expression. The whole brains were also sliced for general immunohistochemical assessment of the neuropeptides expression.

RESULTS: Chronic administration of clonazepam resulted in an increase of NMU mRNA expression and formation of NMU-expressing fibers in the amygdala, while escitalopram produced a significant decrease in NPSR mRNA level in hypothalamus. Long-term escitalopram administration affects the local expression of examined neuropeptides mRNA in a varied manner depending on the brain structure.

CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacological effects of escitalopram may be connected with local at least partially NPSR-related alterations in the NPS/NMU/NMUR2 gene expression at the level selected rat brain regions. A novel alternative mode of SSRI action can be therefore cautiously proposed.

Bibliographic note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11033-022-07578-9