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Histochemistry. 1988;89(3):247-52.

Synaptic communication between somatostatinergic axons and growth hormone-releasing factor (GRF) synthesizing neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the rat.

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Department of Anatomy, University Medical School, Pécs, Hungary.


Growth hormone (GH) production of the anterior pituitary gland is controlled by inhibiting and releasing hormones that are synthesized in the diencephalon. In order to elucidate the possible interrelationships between somatostatin and growth hormone-releasing factor (GRF) synthesizing neurons at the hypothalamic level, immunocytochemical double labelling studies were performed on sections containing the arcuate nucleus (ARC) of the rat. Somatostatin producing neurons were located in the dorsomedial part of the ARC, while somatostatin immunoreactive (IR) axons were found in the ventro-lateral part of the nucleus, an area containing GRF-synthesizing cells. The use of the dual antigen localization technique revealed the approach and juxtaposition of somatostatin containing axons to dendrites and cell bodies of GRF-synthesizing neurons. At the light microscopic level, several somatostatinergic axon varicosities were clustered around single GRF-synthesizing cells. Ultrastructural analysis of the ventro-lateral part of the ARC showed that (i), somatostatinergic axons established synaptic connections (ii), GRF-producing neurons received axons terminals on their somata and dendrites and (iii), somatostatin-IR axons formed asymmetric synaptic specializations with both dendrites and somata of GRF-synthesizing neurons. These morphological findings indicate that the hormone production and release of hypophysiotrophic GRF-IR neurons can be influenced by the central somatostatin system via direct synaptic mechanisms. The data support the concept, that the interaction of inhibiting and releasing hormones, which determines responses of the pituitary target cells, may take place also at the hypothalamic level.

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