Urocortin 3 (Ucn 3) or stresscopin (SCP) is a new member of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) neuropeptide family and is a specific ligand for CRF type 2 receptor (CRF2). CRF receptors are known to be expressed in the gastrointestinal tract and are considered to play pathophysiological roles, for example, in gastrointestinal motility under stress. We, therefore, examined Ucn 3 expression in the normal human large intestine obtained from surgery and autopsy in order to clarify this local response to stress in human intestine. Both immunohistochemistry and mRNA in situ hybridization demonstrated Ucn 3 expression in myenteric and submucosal nervous plexus, in vascular endothelial cells (VECs) and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) of blood vessels in subserosa, in smooth muscle layers of the large intestine, and in enterochromaffin cells. In contrast to Urocortin 1 (Ucn 1), Ucn 3 was hardly detected in lamina propria (LP) inflammatory cells in colonic mucosa. In addition, immunohistochemistry demonstrated CRF2 expression in myenteric and submucosal nervous plexus, in smooth muscle layers, in VECs, in VSMCs and in lamina propria inflammatory cells. Immunoreactive Ucn 3 was also detected in the large intestine by RIA, with high concentrations detected in the rectum (15.4 ± 9.5 pmol/g wet weight, mean ± SEM, n = 3) and sigmoid colon (6.5 ± 3.5 pmol/g wet weight, n = 5). Reverse-phase HPLC of the human large intestine disclosed peaks eluting in the position of synthetic Ucn 3 or SCP. These findings all suggest that Ucn 3 plays some physiological or pathological roles in the modulation of gastrointestinal functions during stressful conditions in different manners from Ucn 1.
- Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor
- Urocortin 1
- Urocortin 3
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience