Immunoreactivity of the immediate early gene c-fos was used to investigate changes in the activity of brainstem neurons in response to acute stressors like immobilization, formalin-induced pain, cold exposure, hemorrhage and insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Different stressors induced Fos- like immunoreactivity in different pontine and medullary neurons. A single, 3 hour immobilization was found to be a very strong stimulus that activated brainstem catecholaminergic (tyrosine hydroxylase-immunopositive) neurons and cells in the raphe and certain pontine tegmental nuclei, as well as in the reticular formation. Pain, induced by a subcutaneous injection of formalin was also effective on catecholamine-synthesizing neurons and on others cells in the nucleus of the solitary tract. Cold exposure activated cells mainly in the sensory spinal trigeminal and parabrachial nuclei and in the so-called 'pontine thermoregulatory area'. Moderate Fos-like immunoreactivity was induced by a hypotonic (25%) hemorrhage in medullary catecholaminergic neurons, the nucleus of the solitary tract and the Barrington nucleus. Among stressful stimuli used, insulin-induced hypoglycemia elicited the smallest Fos activation in the lower brainstem. The present observations indicate that different stressors may use different neuronal pathways in the central organization of the stress response.
- Medulla oblongata
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Behavioral Neuroscience