Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) plays a central role in the regulation of the stress axis. In marnmals, CRF as well as its receptors and its CRF-binding protein (CRF-BP) are expressed in a variety of organs and tissues outside the central nervous system. One of these extrahypothalarnic sites is the adrenal gland, where the paracrine actions of adrenal CRF influence cortical steroidogenesis and adrenal blood flow. Although the central role of CRF signaling in the initiation and regulation of the stress response has now been established throughout vertebrates, infonnation about the possible peripheral presence of CRF in earlier vertebrate lineages is scant. We established the expression of CRF, CRF-BP, and the CRF receptor 1 in a panel of peripheral organs of common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Out of all the peripheral organs tested, CRF and CRF-BP are most abundantly expressed in the carp head kidney, the fish equivalent of the mammalian adrenal gland. This expression localizes to chrornaffin cells. Furthermore, detectable quantities of CRF are released from the intact head kidney following in vitro stimulation with 8-bromo-cAMP in a superfusion setup. The presence of CRF and CRF-BP within the chrornaffin compartment of the head kidney suggests that a pathway homologous to the mammalian intra-adrenal CRF system is present in the head kidney of fish. It follows that such a system to locally fine-tune the outcome of the centrally initiated stress response has been an integral part of the vertebrate endocrine system since the common ancestor of teleostean fishes and mammals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism