Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) are structurally similar, share the same high affinity site in same peripheral tissues and increase the intracellular content of adenylate cyclase. To establish which neural circuits are signaling with each of these two peptides, we systematically compared the immunohistochemical distribution of PACAP and VIP in selected rat forebrain regions using previously characterized antiserum. The PACAP antiserum recognized both PACAP27 and PACAP38, and PACAP immunoreactivity was unaffected by preincubation with various other peptides. PACAP-immunoreactive perikarya and fibers were observed in both hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic regions. In the hypothalamus PACAP perikarya were located in the supraoptic, paraventricular, anterior commissural, periventricular, and perifomical nuclei. In intact rats PACAP immunolabeled fibers were present in the internal zone of the median eminence and posterior pituitary. One week after hypophysectomy the intensity of staining in the internal zone was enhanced and immunoreactive fibers appeared in the external zone of the median eminence. Two or 3 weeks later a dense fiber network was observed around the portal capillaries in the external zone, and immunoreactive material further accumulated in the fibers of the internal zone. PACAP-immunoreactive perikarya and fibers were also observed in several extrahypothalamic regions including central thalamic nuclei, amygdaloid complex, bed nucleus of stria terminalis, septum, hippocampus and cingulate, and entorhinal cortices. In the lateral septum and entorhinal cortex PACAP fibers surrounded unstained neuronal cell bodies and small blood vessels. In intact rats, VIP-immunoreactive perikarya were present in all regions of the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, amygdaloid complexus and in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, but not in the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei. In colchicine-treated rats the VIP perikarya appeared in the preoptic area and paraventricular nucleus. The fibers were organized in two main pathways: The stria terminalis and an ascending pathway from the suprachiasmatic nucleus to the paraventricular area. Hypophysectomy induced the appearance of VIP-immunoreactive fibers in the internal zone of the median eminence and perikarya in the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei in addition to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. The dissimilar distributions of PACAP and VIP suggest that PACAP neural circuits are independent of that of VIP in the rat forebrain. These findings support possible multifunctional roles for PACAP as a posterior pituitary hormone, a hypophysiotrophic factor, and a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator.
- Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide
- Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience