Plasma adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) levels increase after acute cold exposure. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were parallel changes in pituitary proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA. Male rats were exposed to cold (3-5°C) or a novel environment for 15 or 30 min. Others were unstressed. POMC mRNAs in frozen sections or dissociated cells were hybridized with a photobiotinylated oligonucleotide probe which was detected in situ by streptavidin-alkaline phosphatase. The percentage of area labeled for POMC mRNA was quantified by the Cue-3 color image analysis system. In frozen sections, 24-fold increases in the percentage of area labeled for POMC mRNA were evident in intermediate lobes (IL) 30 min after stress. No change was seen in anterior lobes (AL). If the ALs were dissociated, a 66-99% increase in percentage of labeled cells was detected 2-3 hr after the cold exposure. Fifteen min of cold stress (CS) also caused a 117% increase in the area of label for POMC mRNA per corticotrope. No change was seen after 30 min. Exposure to a novel environment caused a 73% increase in the percentage of area labeled for POMC mRNA per AL corticotrope and an 11-fold increase in the IL. These results indicate that both AL corticotropes and IL melanotropes are stimulated by acute exposure to cold and novel environments.
- Cold stress
- Image analysis
- In situ hybridization histochemistry
- Proopiomelanocortin mRNA
ASJC Scopus subject areas