Corticotropin-releasing factor-like immunoreactive nerve fibers and varicosities are present in the pituitary stalk and median eminence 6 weeks after bilateral lesioning of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. The total immunoreactivity may reach 10% of the control density. The origin of these fibers was investigated 3 days after hypothalamic transections in paraventricular-lesioned (6 weeks postoperatively) rats. Accumulations of corticotropin-releasing factor immunostaining were observed in the proximal portions of the transected axons and in neuronal perikarya. Fibers with retrograde labeling were seen lateral and dorsolateral from the sagittally oriented knife cuts which transected the retrochiasmatic area and cells were found in the supraoptic nucleus and in the perifornical nucleus (dorsal-dorsolateral to the fornix), ipsilateral to the lesion. No corticotropin-releasing factor immunostained cells were seen in other hypothalamic or preoptic nuclei which project to the median eminence or the posterior pituitary. Corticotropin-releasing factor containing cells in the supraoptic and perifornical nuclei may have an importance in stress response in rats with long-term paraventricular lesions.
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