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Brain Behav Immun. 2010 Oct;24(7):1137-47. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2010.05.007. Epub 2010 May 31.

Location-specific activation of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus by localized inflammation.

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Department of Oral Biology, Ohio State University, 305 W. 12th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210-1247, USA.


The existence of an immunological homunculus has been proposed, but evidence for location-specific response of the central nervous system to immunological stimulation is lacking. In this study, we show that inflammation induced by injection of casein into one of the causes c-fos expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) in an asymmetrical manner: much stronger activation is always induced in the contralateral PVN. Unilateral sciatic nerve transection abolished the casein-induced PVN activation if casein was injected into the hindlimb with the nerve transection, but had no effect if casein was injected into the hindlimb with intact nerve innervation. Injection of casein into one the forelimbs also caused contralateral PNV activation. Further, stronger PVN activation was found in the anterior PVN after the forelimb injection, but in the posterior PVN after the hindlimb injection. Casein-induced PVN activation is absent in IL-1R1 KO, IL-6 KO, TNFα KO, and in C3H/HeJ (TLR4 mutant) animals. In comparison, injection of LPS, a systemic inflammagen, into one hindlimb induced bilateral PVN activation but injection of live Escherichia coli into one hindlimb induced contralateral PVN activation. These results support the notion that local inflammation may activate the PVN by neural routes in a location-specific manner.

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