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Brain Res. 2000 Jul 14;871(1):50-6.

Polysynaptic neural pathways between the hypothalamus, including the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and the liver.

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Netherlands Institute for Brain Research Meibergdreef 33, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus is responsible for a 24-h rhythm in basal glucose levels in the rat. The neural pathways used by the suprachiasmatic nucleus to mediate this rhythm in plasma glucose have not yet been identified. In the present study we examined whether there are any connections between hypothalamic centers, including the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and the liver, which is the main site for glucose production and storage. Transneuronal virus tracing from the liver showed that after injection of pseudorabies virus, specific neuronal cell populations in the central nervous system were labeled retrogradely, suggesting that specific sites in the central nervous system may control liver metabolism. First-order neurons belonged to the sympathetic and parasympathetic system, while second-order and third-order neurons were present in both the brainstem and hypothalamus. The presence of third-order neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus suggests an involvement of the biological clock in the neural control of the liver.

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