Quantitative in vitro autoradiography, cytosol receptor assay in punched brain tissue, and immunocytochemistry have revealed that the glucocorticoid receptor is present in the rat supraoptic nucleus (SON). Based on its binding characteristics the receptor appears to be the type II glucocorticoid receptor. With the use of a monoclonal antibody against purified liver glucocorticoid receptor, immunostaining was found in magnocellular neurosecretory neurons in the SON, but not in magnocellular neurons in the paraventricular nucleus. Immunoreactive cells seem to be concentrated in ventral parts of the SON where vasopressin cells were previously shown to be located. One to 2 weeks after bilateral adrenalectomy, there was a substantial decrease in glucocorticoid receptor immunostaining in magnocellular as well as other types of neurons in various brain regions. Administration of synthetic glucocorticoids (RU 28362 or dexamethasone) induced a robust increase in the intensity of immunostaining in cell nuclei of neurosecretory cells. The presence of glucocorticoid receptors in the SON suggests that glucocorticoids may affect vasopressin synthesis or/and secretion through a direct action on magnocellular neurons.
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