The corticotropin releasing factor (CRF)-immunoreactive paraventriculo-infundibular neuronal system of long-term adrenalectomized and adrenalectomized-short term dexamethasone treated rats was analyzed at the ultrastructural level using the preembedding peroxidase anti-peroxidase complex (PAP)-immunohistological method. In both groups of animals, parvocellular neurons located in the medial and dorsal subnuclei of the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) showed CRF-like immunoreactivity. The perikarya contained hypertrophied rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER) with dilated cisternae, active Golgi-complexes and numerous neurosecretory granules. The majority of the neurosecretory granules measured 80-120 nm. Dendrites of CRF-immunoreactive neurons contained labeled vesicles, secretory granules, bundles of microtubules, a well-developed smooth endoplasmic reticulum (sER) complex and free ribosomes. Unlabeled terminal boutons of axons were observed to synapse on dendrites and somata of CRF-neurons. In addition, CRF perikarya were found in direct somato-somatic apposition with both CRF-immunopositive and immunonegative parvocellular cells. Retraction of glial processes and the existence of puncta adherentia between the cell membranes characterized these appositions. Varicose CRF axons within the median eminence contained hypertrophied sER, labeled vesicles and neurosecretory granules. The preterminal portions of the CRF-axons were dilated and possessed many labeled 80-120 nm diameter granules. CRF-terminals were greatly enlarged and established direct neurohemal contacts with the external limiting basal lamina of portal vessels without the interposition of tanycytic ependymal foot-processes. These tanycytes were not CRF immunopositive. CRF positive terminals contained clusters of microvesicles, labeled small vesicles and multivesicular bodies, but fewer granular elements than were observed within the preterminals. Many of the labeled organelles were attached to tubules of sER. Occasionally, CRF-axons were observed within the pericapillary space adjacent to portal vessels. The ultrastructural features of CRF-neurons, obtained from adrenalectomized and adrenalectomized plus short-term dexamethasone treated rats did not differ significantly from each other. The hormone content of the entire CRF-neuron was greater in the steroid treated group. Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) synthesizing cells in the pars distalis of adrenalectomized-dexamethasone treated rats also showed increased numbers of immunopositive secretory granules (150-320 nm in diameter). These ultrastructural morphological results provide evidence that the function of the paraventriculo-infundibular CRF-system is adrenal steroid hormone dependent and suggest the participation of glial and ependymal elements in the regulation of the system in this hyperfunctional state. The observed membrane specializations are indicative of ephaptic interactions between CRF-neurons and may serve a synchronizing function in adrenalectomized animals.
- Corticotropin releasing factor
- Dexamethasone treatment
- Electron microscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience