Electron microscopic analysis of tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine-β-hydroxylase and phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase immunoreactive innervation of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus in the rat

Zs Liposits, C. Phelix, W. K. Paull

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The catecholaminergic innervation of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the rat was studred by preembedding immunocytochemical methods utilizing specific antibodies which were generated against catecholamine synthesizing enzymes. Phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PNMT)-immunoreactive terminals contained 80-120 nm dense core granules and 30-50 nm clear synaptic vesicles. The labeled boutons terminated on cell bodies and dendrites of both parvo- and magnocellular neurons of PVN via asymmetric synapses. The parvocellular subnuclei received a more intense adrenergic innervation than did the magnocellular regions of the nucleus. Dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH)-immunopositive axons were most numerous in the periventricular zone and the medial paryocellular subnucleus of PVN. Labeled terminal boutens contained 70-100 nm dense granules and clusters of spherical, electron lucent vesicles. Dendrites, perikarya and spinous structures of paraventricular neurons were observed to be the postsynaptic targets of DBH axon terminals. These asymmetric synapses frequently exhibited subsynaptic dense bodies. Paraventricular neurons did not demonstrate either PNMT or DBH immunoreactivity. The fibers present within the nucleus which contained these enzymes are considered to represent extrinsic afferent connections to neurons of the PVN. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactivity was found both in neurons and neuronal processes within the PVN In TH-cells, the immunolabel was associated with rough endoplasmic reticulum, free ribosomes and 70-120 nm dense granules. Occasionally, nematosome-like bodies and cilia were observed in the TH-perikarya. Unlabeled axons established en passant and bouton terminaux type synapses with these TH-immunopositive cells. TH-immunoreactive axons terminated on cell bodies as well as somatic and dendritic spines of paraventricular parvocellular neurons. TH-containing axons were observed to deeply invaginate into both dendrites and perikarya of magnocellular neurons. These observations provide ultrastructural evidence for the participation of central catecholaminergic neuronal systems in the regulation of the different neuronal and neuroendocrine functions which have been related to hypothalamic paraventricular neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-120
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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