The postnatal developmental expression pattern of urocortin in the rat olivocerebellar system

Jerome Swinny, D. Kalicharan, N. Brouwer, K. Biber, F. Shi, A. Gramsbergen, J. van der Want

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urocortin belongs to the family of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-like peptides, which play an important role in sensorimotor coordination. CRF induces locomotor activity, and urocortin has an inhibitory effect. Here, we document the regional and subcellular localization of urocortin in the developing rat cerebellum to compare it with CRF. During the first postnatal week, urocortin immunoreactivity (UCN-ir), within the white matter and cerebellar cortex, was strongest in vermal lobules I, II, IX, and X, closely followed by lobules IV, V, and VIII; lobules VI and VII showed the weakest labeling. Cortical immunoreactivity was in the form of puncta that encircled Purkinje cell somata. By postnatal day (PD) 12, UCN-ir had increased appreciably in all lobules. In Purkinje cells, labeling was spread throughout their somata and proximal dendrites. By PD 15, labeling in lobules I–IV appeared to wane, yet still prevailed in the central and posterior lobules. This anterior-to-posterior gradient persisted through to adulthood. The study shows that urocortin and CRF have similar regional distribution profiles during development, suggesting synergistic roles within the vestibulocerebellum. The onset of the adult distributional pattern of urocortin at the stage when rats are capable of fluent walking patterns further strengthens the correlation between CRF-like peptides and postural control. An important difference between urocortin and CRF is the localization of urocortin, and not CRF, within Purkinje cells, implying that urocortin probably has an additional role in modulating the signals emanating from the cerebellar cortex to the deep cerebellar nuclei.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-51
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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