Noradrenergic innervation of the hypothalamus of rhesus monkeys: Distribution of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase immunoreactive fibers and quantitative analysis of varicosities in the paraventricular nucleus

Stephen D. Ginsberg, Patrick R. Hof, Warren G. Young, John Morrison

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The distribution of noradrenergic processes within the hypothalamus of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) was examined by immunohistochemistry with an antibody against dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase. The results revealed that the pattern of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase immunoreactivity varied systematically throughout the rhesus monkey hypothalamus. Extremely high densities of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase‐immunoreactive processes were observed in the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, while relatively lower levels were found in the arcuate and dorsomedial nuclei and in the medial preoptic, perifornical, and suprachiasmatic areas. Moderate levels of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase immunoreactivity were found throughout the lateral hypothalamic area and in the internal lamina of the median eminence. Very few immunoreactive processes were found in the ventromedial nucleus or in the mammillary complex. Other midline diencephalic structures were found to have high densities of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase immunoreactivity, including the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus and a discrete subregion of nucleus reuniens, the magnocellular subfascicular nucleus. A moderate density of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase immunoreactive processes were found in the rhomboid nucleus and zona incerta whereas little dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase immunoreactivity was found in the fields of Forel, nucleus reuniens, or subthalamic nucleus. The differential distribution of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase‐immunoreactive processes may reflect a potential role of norepineph‐rine as a regulator of a variety of functions associated with the nuclei that are most heavily innervated, e.g., neuroendocrine release from the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, and gonadotropin release from the medial preoptic area and mediobasal hypothalamus. Additionally, quantitative analysis of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase‐immunoreactive varicosities was performed on a laser scanning microscope in both magnocellular and parvicellular regions of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. The methodology employed in this study allowed for the high resolution of immunoreactive profiles through the volume of tissue being analyzed, and was more accurate than conventional light microscopy in terms of varicosity quantification. Quantitatively, a significant difference in the density of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase‐immunoreactive varicosities was found between magnocellular and parvicellular regions, suggesting that parvicellular neurons received a denser noradrenergic input. These differential patterns may reflect an important functional role for norepinephrine in the regulation of anterior pituitary secretion through the hypothalamic‐pituitary‐adrenal stress axis. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-611
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes



  • immunohistochemistry
  • laser scanning microscopy
  • norepinephrine
  • primate
  • quantitative neuroanatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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