The endogenous neuropeptide nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) modulates behavioral and gastrointestinal responses to stress. Mucosal mast cells (MMCs) are primary mediators of stress-related responses in the gastrointestinal tract. We investigated the influence of N/OFQ and of the N/OFQ peptide (NOP) receptor antagonist, UFP-101, on MMCs in the rat gastric fundus. N/OFQ was infused subcutaneously for 52 h at 0.1, 1 and 10 μg/kg/h and at 1 μg/kg/h for 4 h, 52 h, 7 days and 14 days via Alzet osmotic minipumps. Density of MMCs and connective tissue mast cells (CTMCs) was assessed histochemically and immunohistochemically. Activation and location of MMCs were assessed by transmission electron microscopy. Contacts between MMCs and nerve elements were assessed by double immunofluorescence. N/OFQ (1 μg/kg/h) and UFP-101 (10 and 30 μg/kg/h) were infused subcutaneously in the absence and presence of acute cold-restraint stress and density of MMCs was assessed. Peripheral N/OFQ dose-dependently increased the density of MMCs, while not influencing CTMCs. The increasing effect was maintained up to 14 days following continuous infusion, while after termination of the 4-h infusion, the effect declined rapidly. The peptide promoted the activation of MMCs and their migration from the lamina propria toward the epithelial layer. The association between MMCs and nerve fibers was time-dependently down-regulated following N/OFQ infusion. The stress-induced hyperplasia of MMCs was not influenced by N/OFQ and abolished by UFP-101. UFP-101 alone was ineffective. The present results suggest that endogenous N/OFQ could be considered a potential component of the circuit neuropeptides-mast cells-stress.
Long-term peripheral infusion of nociceptin/orphanin FQ promotes hyperplasia, activation and migration of mucosal mast cells in the rat gastric fundus / GRANDI D.; MASSI M.; MORINI G.. - In: PEPTIDES. - ISSN 0196-9781. - 32(2011), pp. 729-736. [10.1016/j.peptides.2011.01.012]