Through use of an antiserum directed against hGH, an immunpreactive hGH-like material has been identified in the rat brain by peroxidase immunohistochemistry. Peroxidase-positive material was found in beaded, neuronal fibers in the external zone of the median eminence, lateral septum, and organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis and was unaffected by prior hypophysectomy. After pretreatment with intraventricular colchicine, numerous immunoreactive neuronal cell bodies were visualized within the parvocellular medial division of the paraventricular nucleus, periventricular nucleus, dorsomedial nucleus, lateral hypothalamus, and preoptic area. Immunohistochemical staining was completely abolished by preincubation of the antiserum with 10-6 M hGH, the 20, 000 mol wt variant of hGH, hGH dimer, core peptide 20-64/135-167, proteolytically derived hGH fragments 1-134 and 147-191, and human placental lactogen. There was no diminution in staining after pfeincubation with hGH N-terminal fragment 1-43, hGH C-terminal fragment 171-191, rat GH, rat or human PRL, and numerous other neuropeptides and anterior pituitary hormones. Bilateral electrolytic ablation of the paraventricular nucleus area caused a loss of immunostaining in the median eminence. These results indicate the presence of a hitherto uqdescribed intrinsic neuronal system in rat brain that contains a substance bearing immunological similarity to the midportion of the hGH molecule and to human placental lactogen. It is proposed that this substance is part of a tuberoinfundibular neuronal system deriving from the parvocellular medial division of the paraventricular nucleus-immunoreactive perikarya and may, therefore, be involved in hypophysial regulation. It may also act as a neuromodulator of limbic lobe structures and other hypothalamic regions.
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