Psychiatry Investig.  2012 Jun;9(2):187-190.

Acute Effects of Capsaicin on Proopioimelanocortin mRNA Levels in the Arcuate Nucleus of Sprague-Dawley Rats

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital, Yangsan, Korea.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Yangsan, Korea. sungkim@pusan.ac.kr
  • 3Medical Research Institute, Pusan National University, Busan, Korea.
  • 4Department of Anatomy, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Yangsan, Korea.
  • 5Department of Biochemistry, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Yangsan, Korea.

Abstract


OBJECTIVE
Capsaicin, a noxious stimulant and main component of the hot flavor of red peppers, has an analgesic effect when administered to humans. We investigated the expression of proopioimelanocortin (POMC) mRNA in the arcuate nucleus of Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats after administering capsaicin, hypothesizing that administering capsaicin activates the central opioid system.
METHODS
SD rats were divided randomly into two groups; one group received a saline injection and the other received a capsaicin injection. The POMC mRNA level in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus was measured by the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction at 0, 20, 40, 60, and 120 minutes after capsaicin administration.
RESULTS
Capsaicin administration resulted in a significantly increased POMC mRNA level, compared to that in saline-treated rats at the 20-minute time point (t=-4.445, p=0.001). However, no significant group differences were observed at other times (t=-1.886, p=0.089; t= -0.973, p=0.353; t=-2.193, p=0.053 for 40, 60, and 120 minutes, respectively).
CONCLUSION
The analgesic effect of capsaicin might be associated with increased activity of the cerebral opioid system. This finding suggests that capsaicin acted for nociception and analgesia and could affect alcohol-intake behavior, which might further imply that a food culture could affect drinking behavior.

Keyword

Capsaicin; Sprague-Dawley rats; Proopioimelanocortin (POMC); beta-endorphin

MeSH Terms

Analgesia
Animals
Arcuate Nucleus
beta-Endorphin
Capsaicin
Capsicum
Drinking Behavior
Humans
Hypothalamus
Nociception
Pro-Opiomelanocortin
Rats
Rats, Sprague-Dawley
RNA, Messenger
Capsaicin
Pro-Opiomelanocortin
RNA, Messenger
beta-Endorphin
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