The hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) has been implicated in a remarkable number of functions including control of pituitary-adrenocortical activity in response to stress, body fluid homeostasis, milk ejection reflex, prolactin secretion, thyroid hormone secretion, analgesia, food intake, gastrointestinal functions, cardiovascular functions, and control of pineal melatonin synthesis. Paraventricular neurons produce hormones of key importance in neuroendocrine regulation such as vasopressin (VP), oxytocin (OX), 41-residue corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), somatostatin (SOM) and the putative prolactin releasing factor vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP). Three recent advances pertinent to the organization of the PVN include: (1) the evidence that the structure of the PVN is compartmental in nature, topographically segregated cellular units seem to carry out different functions, (2) the discovery that paraventricular neurons are capable of expressing a multitude of neuromediators simultaneously, thus cellular units can be best specified by a certain combination of neuromediators, (3) evidence that the composition of the neuromediator "cocktail" in individual neurons is variable and depends on the physiological status of the animal. Hence, the PVN may be best considered as a dynamic mosaic of chemically specified subgroups of neurons. The flexibility of neurotransmitter status in paraventricular neurons may play a central role of a functional plasticity of fixed anatomical circuits.
- Magnocellular neurosecretory cells
- Neurotransmitter plasticity
- Parvocellular neurosecretory cells
- Transmitter coexistence
ASJC Scopus subject areas