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Histochemistry. 1987;87(5):407-12.

Ultrastructural localization of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in hypothalamic paraventricular neurons synthesizing corticotropin releasing factor (CRF).

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Department of Anatomy, University of Missouri-Columbia 65212.


Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) synthesizing neurons, located in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), are the main central regulators of the pituitary-adrenal cortex endocrine axis. The hormone production and release of CRF-synthesizing neurons is regulated by neuronal messages and feedback action(s) of glucocorticoids secreted by the adrenal gland. In order to characterize the latter mechanism, glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-immunoreactive (IR) sites were studied in hypothalamic paraventricular neurons of intact, long-term adrenalectomized, and adrenalectomized plus glucocorticoid treated animals, by means of ultrastructural immunocytochemical labelling. In intact animals, glucocorticoid receptor immunoreactivity was found predominantly in the nuclei of parvocellular neurons. Following adrenalectomy GR-immunoreactivity was localized in the cytoplasm of the cells, and there was a concomitant disappearance of the label from the nuclei. After corticosterone administration to adrenalectomized animals, GR-IR sites were again concentrated within the cell nuclei. Immunocytochemical double labelling studies performed on adrenalectomized plus corticosterone-replaced animals demonstrated glucocorticoid receptor-IR sites in the cell nuclei of parvocellular paraventricular neurons that expressed CRF-immunoreactivity in their cytoplasm. These ultrastructural data indicate that the intracellular location of glucocorticoid receptor is dependent on the availability of glucocorticoids by the neurons. The simultaneous expression of GR- and CRF-immunoreactivity in parvocellular paraventricular neurons supports the concept of a direct feedback action of glucocorticoids upon CRF-synthesizing neurons.

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