Urotensin II acts centrally to increase epinephrine and ACTH release and cause potent inotropic and chronotropic actions

Anna M.D. Watson, Gavin W. Lambert, Kathryn J. Smith, Clive N. May

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Urotensin II is a small peptide whose receptor was recently identified in mammals as the orphan G protein-coupled receptor-14. The reported cardiovascular responses to systemic urotensin II administration are variable, and there is little detailed information on its central cardiovascular actions. We examined the cardiovascular and humoral actions of intracerebroventricular urotensin II (0.02 and 0.2 nmol/kg and vehicle) and intravenous urotensin II (2, 20, and 40 nmol/kg and vehicle) in conscious ewes previously surgically implanted with flow probes and intracerebroventricular guide tubes. Two hours after intracerebroventricular infusion of urotensin II (0.2 nmol/kg over 1 hour; n = 5), heart rate (+56±13 beats per minute [bpm]), dF/dt (an index of cardiac contractility; +533±128 L · min-1 · s-1), and cardiac output (+3.4±0.4 L/min) increased significantly compared with vehicle, as did renal, mesenteric, and iliac blood flows and conductances. Plasma epinephrine, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and glucose levels also increased dramatically (+753±166 pg/mL, +14.3±3.5 pmol/L, and +7.0±1.4 mmol/L, respectively). All of these variables remained elevated for up to 4 hours after infusion. In contrast, 1 hour after intravenous urotensin II (40 nmol/kg bolus; n=6), a sustained tachycardia (+25±8 bpm) ensued, but cardiac output, cardiac contractility, total peripheral conductance, and plasma glucose levels did not change significantly. In summary, this is the first study to show that urotensin II acts centrally to stimulate sympathoadrenal and pituitary-adrenal pathways, resulting in increased adrenocorticotropic hormone and epinephrine release and potent chronotropic and inotropic actions. In contrast, tachycardia was the only major response to intravenous urotensin II. These findings suggest that urotensin II is a novel stimulator of central pathways that mediate responses to alerting stimuli or stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-379
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • Cardiac output
  • Glucose
  • Hemodynamics
  • Sheep
  • Urotensin

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