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Serotonergic system involvement in the inhibitory action of estrogen on induced sodium appetite in female rats

Physiology & Behavior
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.04.029
  • Serotonergic System
  • Sodium Appetite
  • Estrous Cycle
  • Vasopressinergic Neurons
  • Ovlt
  • Drn


Abstract This study of the participation of the serotonergic system in the inhibitory effect of estrogen on induced sodium appetite in female rats explores sodium appetite induced by Furosemide and low sodium diet treatment (DEP) in normally cycling rats and in ovariectomized rats with and without estradiol replacement (OVX, OVX+E2) . We also analyzed the neural activity of serotonergic neurons of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) as well as the activity of other brain nuclei previously found to be involved in sodium and water balance in sodium depleted animals without access to the intake test. For this purpose, we examined the brain Fos, Fos-serotonin and Fos-vasopressin immunoreactivity patterns in diestrus (D), estrus (E), OVX and OVX+E2 rats subjected to DEP. Female rats in E and OVX+E2 exhibited a significant decrease in induced sodium intake compared with females in D and OVX. This estrogen-dependent inhibition on induced sodium appetite (approximately 50% reduction) can be correlated with changes in Fos activation observed in the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT) and DRN, in response to sodium depletion. Given our previous observations in males, the expected sodium depletion-induced activity of the OVLT was found to be absent in OVX+E2 females, while the usual inhibitory tonic activity of serotonergic neurons of the DRN, instead of decreasing after sodium depletion, increases or remains unchanged in OVX+E2-DEP and E-DEP females, respectively. Regarding urinary water and sodium excretion 3h after furosemide treatment, E-DEP and OVX+E2-DEP animals excreted smaller volumes of more highly concentrated urine than depleted D and OVX rats. Twenty hours after sodium depletion, the same groups of animals also showed a significant increase in the number of Fos-AVP immunoreactive neurons within the supraoptic nucleus, compared with D-DEP. In summary, our results demonstrate an estrogen-dependent inhibition of induced sodium appetite in normally cycling rats and ovariectomized animals with estradiol replacement, which may involve an interaction between excitatory neurons of the OVLT and inhibitory serotonergic cells of the DRN. The main finding is thus serotonergic system involvement as a possible mechanism in the inhibitory action of estrogen on induced sodium appetite.

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