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Neuroscience. 2002;115(3):899-915.

Distribution of melanin-concentrating hormone neurons projecting to the medial mammillary nucleus.

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Department of Basic Sciences, School of Dentistry of Ara├žatuba, University of Sao Paulo State - UNESP, 16015-050, Sao Paulo, Ara├žatuba, Brazil.


The melanin-concentrating hormone and neuropeptide glutamic acid-isoleucine are expressed in neurons located mainly in the hypothalamus that project widely throughout the CNS. One of the melanin-concentrating hormone main targets is the medial mammillary nucleus, but the exact origin of these fibers is unknown. We observed melanin-concentrating hormone and neuropeptide glutamic acid-isoleucine immunoreactive fibers coursing throughout the mammillary complex, showing higher density in the pars lateralis of the medial mammillary nucleus, while the lateral mammillary nucleus showed sparse melanin-concentrating hormone innervation. The origins of these afferents were determined by using implant of the retrograde tracer True Blue in the medial mammillary nucleus. Double-labeled neurons were observed in the lateral hypothalamic area, rostromedial zona incerta and dorsal tuberomammillary nucleus. A considerable population of retrogradely labeled melanin-concentrating hormone perikaryal profiles was also immunoreactive to neuropeptide glutamic acid-isoleucine (74+/-15% to 85+/-15%). The afferents from the lateral hypothalamic area, rostromedial zona incerta and dorsal tuberomammillary nucleus to the medial mammillary nucleus were confirmed using implant of the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin. In addition, using double-labeled immunohistochemistry, we found no co-localization between neurons expressing melanin-concentrating hormone and adenosine deaminase (histaminergic marker) in the dorsal tuberomammillary nucleus. We hypothesize that these melanin-concentrating hormone projections participate in spatial memory process mediated by the medial mammillary nucleus. These pathways would enable the animal to look for food during the initial moments of appetite stimulation.

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