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Peptides. 2010 Apr;31(4):757-76. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Jan 20.

The design of barriers in the hypothalamus allows the median eminence and the arcuate nucleus to enjoy private milieus: the former opens to the portal blood and the latter to the cerebrospinal fluid.

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Facultad de Medicina, Instituto de Anatomía, Histología y Patología, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a single uninterrupted barrier that in the brain capillaries is located at the endothelial cells and in the circumventricular organs, such as the choroid plexuses (CP) and median eminence (ME), is displaced to specialized ependymal cells. How do hypothalamic hormones reach the portal circulation without making the BBB leaky? The ME milieu is open to the portal vessels, while it is closed to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and to the arcuate nucleus. The cell body and most of the axons of neurons projecting to the ME are localized in areas protected by the BBB, while the axon terminals are localized in the BBB-free area of the ME. This design implies a complex organization of the intercellular space of the median basal hypothalamus. The privacy of the ME milieu implies that those neurons projecting to this area would not be under the influence of compounds leaking from the portal capillaries, unless receptors for such compounds are located at the axon terminal. Amazingly, the arcuate nucleus also has its private milieu that is closed to all adjacent neural structures and open to the infundibular recess. The absence of multiciliated cells in this recess should result in a slow CSF flow at this level. This whole arrangement should facilitate the arrival of CSF signal to the arcuate nucleus. This review will show how peripheral hormones can reach hypothalamic targets without making the BBB leaky.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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