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J Comp Neurol. 1987 Nov 1;265(1):65-95.

Development of the preoptic area: time and site of origin, migratory routes, and settling patterns of its neurons.

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Department of Biology, Indiana-Purdue University, Indianapolis 46223.


Neurogenesis and morphogenesis in the rat preoptic area were examined with [3H]thymidine autoradiography. For neurogenesis, the experimental animals were the offspring of pregnant females given an injection of [3H]thymidine on two consecutive gestational days. Nine groups were exposed to [3H]thymidine on embryonic days E13-E14, E14-E15, E21-E22, respectively. On postnatal day P5, the percentage of labeled cells and the proportion of cells originating during 24-hr periods were quantified at four anteroposterior levels in the preoptic area. Throughout most of the preoptic area there is a lateral to medial neurogenetic gradient. Neurons originate between E12-E15 in the lateral preoptic area, between E13-E16 in the medial preoptic area, between E14-E17 in the medial preoptic nucleus, and between E15-E18 in the periventricular nucleus. These structures also have intrinsic dorsal to ventral neurogenetic gradients. There are two atypical structures: (1) the sexually dimorphic nucleus originates exceptionally late (E15-E19) and is located more lateral to the ventricle than older neurons; (2) in the median preoptic nucleus, where older neurons (E13-E14) are located closer to the third ventricle than younger neurons (E14-E17). For an autoradiographic study of morphogenesis, pregnant females were given a single injection of [3H]thymidine during gestation, and their embryos were removed either two hrs later (short survival) or in successive 24-hr periods (sequential survival). Short-survival autoradiography was used to locate the putative neuroepithelial sources of preoptic nuclei, and sequential survival autoradiography was used to trace the migratory waves of young neurons and their final settling locations. The preoptic neuroepithelium is located anterior to and in the front wall of the optic recess. The neuroepithelium lining the third ventricle is postulated to contain a mosaic of spatiotemporally defined neuroepithelial zones, each containing precursor cells for a specific structure. The neuroepithelial zones and the migratory waves originating from them are illustrated. Throughout most of the preoptic area, neurons migrate predominantly laterally. The older neurons in the lateral preoptic area migrate earlier and settle adjacent to the telencephalon. Younger neurons migrate in successively later waves and accumulate medially. The sexually dimorphic neurons are exceptional since they migrate past older cells to settle in the core of the medial preoptic nucleus.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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