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Fed Proc. 1985 Jan;44(1 Pt 2):221-7.

Localization, colocalization, and plasticity of corticotropin-releasing factor immunoreactivity in rat brain.


The generation of antiserums against a peptide that has met the criteria predicted for corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) has allowed the immunohistochemical localization of CRF immunoreactive neurons in the rat brain. Although CRF-stained cells have been found to be widely distributed in the central nervous system, attention has focused on neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH), which is now acknowledged to be the principal source for delivery of CRF to the hypophyseal portal system. Some 2000 CRF-stained neurons can be counted in the PVH of the colchicine-treated rat, and there is evidence that enkephalin, PHI, and neurotensin coexist with CRF in subsets of parvocellular neurons. Consistent with the established negative feedback effects of adrenal steroids on CRF production and release, adrenalectomy enhances CRF immunoreactivity in parvocellular neurosecretory neurons in the PVH. In addition, immunoreactive vasopressin can be demonstrated in a majority of CRF-stained parvocellular neurons after adrenalectomy, which suggests a form of plasticity that allows for synergy of the two peptides in stimulating adrenocorticotropin secretion. The effects of adrenalectomy appear to be glucocorticoid-dependent, and specific to these peptides and this cell type. A survey of neural inputs to the hypophyseotropic zone of the PVH suggests potential substrates for the control of CRF release and/or synthesis by interoceptive stimuli, by the limbic region, and by a number of cell groups in the basal forebrain. Finally, CRF may also participate in other (nonadenohypophyseal) modes of regulation that are represented in the PVH. Thus, CRF immunoreactivity has been demonstrated in a discrete subset of oxytocinergic magnocellular neurosecretory neurons that project to the posterior pituitary, and in a small fraction of cells in the parvocellular division that project to cell groups in the brain stem and spinal cord that are associated with the control of autonomic functions.

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