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J Comp Neurol. 1993 Jun 1;332(1):123-43.

Local origins of some GABAergic projections to the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus in the rat.

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Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California.


Axonal transport and immunohistochemical methods were used to characterize the organization of glutamic acid decarboxylase-immunoreactive (GAD-ir) projections to the paraventricular (PVH) and supraoptic (SO) nuclei of the hypothalamus in the rat. In line with prior reports, GAD-ir varicosities were found to be densely and quite uniformly distributed throughout the hypothalamus, including the PVH and the SO. Nonetheless, the periventricular part of the PVH was consistently found to contain a disproportionately high density of GAD-ir elements. Small crystalline implants of the retrograde tracer, true blue, into the PVH labeled GAD-ir cells in the anterior perifornical region, portions of the anterior hypothalamic area immediately ventral to the PVH, a region just dorsal to the rostral SO and extending caudomedially over the optic chiasm and tract, and within the anterior one-third of the PVH itself. Because possible uptake of retrograde tracer by local dendritic processes might have yielded false positive filling of nearby GAD-ir cells, anterograde transport, Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin, and combined anterograde transport-immunohistochemical methods were used to attempt to confirm these four putative local sources of GAD-ir inputs. Tracer injections in each of the above mentioned regions labeled sparse to moderate axonal projections to the PVH, which ramified preferentially in the parvicellular division of the nucleus. Projections to the magnocellular division of the PVH and the SO were generally sparse and inconsistently observed in this material. A variable, and generally small, proportion of anterogradely labeled axons and terminals in the PVH also displayed GAD-ir. These results suggest that GABAergic projections to visceromotor cell types in the PVH and SO arise, at least in part, from several diffusely distributed local sources. The fact that these afferents were found to terminate preferentially in the parvicellular division of the PVH makes it likely that additional sources of GABAergic projections to the magnocellular neurosecretory system remain to be identified. Peri- and intranuclear GABAergic neurons could provide an intermediary by which documented (and generally inhibitory) limbic system influences on neuroendocrine function are exerted.

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