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      Semicircadian Rhythms of c-Fos Expression in Several Hypothalamic Areas during Pregnancy in the Rat: Relationship to Prolactin Secretion

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          Prolactin (PRL) serves an important luteotrophic function in the rat during early pregnancy, expressed as a nocturnal surge in the early morning and a diurnal surge in the late afternoon. Several areas of the hypothalamus, including the preoptic area (POA), the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and the ventromedial and dorsomedial nuclei (VM-DM) have been implicated in PRL surges. We investigated the temporal relationship between neuronal activity as measured by c-Fos immunocytochemistry in these areas and PRL secretion during early and late pregnancy. Brains were collected at nine time points (24:00, 02:00, 04:00, 06:00, 10:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00 h) on days 6–7 and three time points (02:00, 14:00 and 18:00 h) on days 14–15 of pregnancy. Plasma PRL levels determined by radioimmunoassay revealed two surges with peaks at 02:00 and 18:00 h and a trough at 14:00 h on days 6–7, which were absent on days 14–15 of pregnancy. The number of neurons expressing c-Fos in the anterior medial preoptic nucleus, the medial preoptic area and the medial preoptic nucleus, but not the anteroventral preoptic nucleus of the POA, and the VM-DM, showed a semicircadian rhythm which was maximal at 02:00 h or/and 04:00 and 18:00 h and reached the lowest value at 14:00 h, in parallel with the PRL surges in early pregnancy. However, the temporal pattern of c-Fos in these areas was reversed during late pregnancy, with a peak at 14:00 h and low levels at 02:00 and 18:00 h. PRL surges were absent and levels were uniformly low during these times. Neuronal activity in the SCN did not show any correlation with PRL surges. The dorsomedial subdivision of the SCN showed high neuronal activity during the daytime in both stages of pregnancy. Neuronal activity in the ventrolateral subdivision of the SCN was high during the nighttime in early pregnancy, however it exhibited high levels during the daytime in late pregnancy. These results suggest that the two daily surges of PRL secretion during the first half of pregnancy might be related to the temporal rhythm of neuronal activity in the POA and the VM-DM, and a major change in the pattern of neuronal activity in these hypothalamic areas might result in termination of the PRL surges at midpregnancy.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Induction of c-fos-like protein in spinal cord neurons following sensory stimulation.

           S Hunt,  Luigi Pini,  G Evan (2015)
          It has been suggested that the proto-oncogenes c-fos and c-myc participate in the control of genetic events which lead to the establishment of prolonged functional changes in neurons. Expression of c-fos and c-myc are among the earliest genetic events induced in cultured fibroblast and phaeochromocytoma cell lines by various stimuli including growth factors, peptides and the intracellular second messengers diacylglycerol, cAMP and Ca2+. We report here that physiological stimulation of rat primary sensory neurons causes the expression of c-fos-protein-like immunoreactivity in nuclei of postsynaptic neurons of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Activation of small-diameter cutaneous sensory afferents by noxious heat or chemical stimuli results in the rapid appearance of c-fos-protein-like immunoreactivity in the superficial layers of the dorsal horn. However, activation of low-threshold cutaneous afferents results in fewer labelled cells with a different laminar distribution. No c-fos induction was seen in the dorsal root ganglia, gracile nucleus or ventral horn. Thus, synaptic transmission may induce rapid changes in gene expression in certain postsynaptic neurons.
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            Neuroendrocrine regulation of prolactin release

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              c-Fos proto-oncogene activity induced by mating in the preoptic area, hypothalamus and amygdala in the female rat: role of afferent input via the pelvic nerve.

              In order to identify brain areas which receive afferent genitosensory input important for mating-induced prolactin release, we compared numbers of Fos-immunoreactive (Fos-IR) cells in brains of intact estrous females 1 h after differential mating stimulation. Numbers of Fos-IR cells were approximately 3-fold higher in the preoptic area (POA), medial amygdala (mAMYG) and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) when females received intromissions (I) from males than when they received mounts-without-intromission (M) or were taken directly from their home cage. In the ventrolateral portion of the ventromedial nucleus (VL-VMN), the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus and the midbrain central tegmental field (CTF) numbers of Fos-IR cells were significantly higher than home cage levels in groups of females exposed to males regardless of type of mating stimulation received. Bilateral transection of the pelvic nerve eliminated the increases in Fos-IR in POA and mAMYG which occurred in sham-transected females in these areas after intromissions from males. These data demonstrate that afferent input via the pelvic nerve activates cell groups within the POA, mAMYG and BNST and suggests that these areas may be involved in initiation of mating-induced prolactin surges.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                January 1998
                30 January 1998
                : 67
                : 1
                : 83-93
                Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kans., USA
                54302 Neuroendocrinology 1998;67:83–93
                © 1998 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 5, References: 50, Pages: 11
                Regulation of Hypothalamic Neurons


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