Abstract The impact of stress is widely recognized in the etiology of multiple disorders. In particular, psychological stress may increase the risk of cardiovascular, metabolic, immune, and mood disorders. Several genes are considered potential candidates to account for the deleterious consequences of stress and recent data point to role of Vgf. VGF mRNA is abundantly expressed in the hypothalamus, where it has been involved in metabolism and energy homeostasis; more recently a link between VGF-derived peptides and mood disorders has been highlighted. The following experiments were performed to address the contribution of the VGF-system to stress induced changes in mice: the distribution of VGF immuno-reactivity in hypothalamic nuclei and its modulation by social stress; the role of VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 in plasma catecholamine release induced by acute restraint stress (RS); the efficacy of chronic TLQP-21 in a mouse model of chronic subordination stress (CSS). VGF fibers were found in high density in arcuate, dorsomedial, and suprachiasmatic and, at lower density, in lateral, paraventricular, and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei. Central administration of either 2 or 4 mM TLQP-21 acutely altered the biphasic serum epinephrine release and decreased norepinephrine serum levels in response to RS. Finally, 28-day of 40 μg/day TLQP-21 treatment increased CSS-induced social avoidance of an unfamiliar conspecific. Overall these data support a role for TLQP-21 in stress responses providing a promising starting point to further elucidate its role as a player in stress-related human pathologies.
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