02 November 2005
Gonadal steroids are known to influence hypothalamic functions through both genomic and non-genomic pathways. Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) may act by a non-genomic mechanism independent of classical steroid receptors. Here we describe the immunocytochemical mapping of SHBG-containing neurons and nerve fibers in the human hypothalamus and infundibulum. Mass spectrometry and Western blot analysis were also used to characterize the biochemical characteristics of SHBG in the hypothalamus and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of humans. SHBG-immunoreactive neurons were observed in the supraoptic nucleus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, paraventricular nucleus, arcuate nucleus, the perifornical region and the medial preoptic area in human brains. There were SHBG-immunoreactive axons in the median eminence and the infundibulum. A partial colocalization with oxytocin could be observed in the posterior pituitary lobe in consecutive semithin sections. We also found strong immunoreactivity for SHBG in epithelial cells of the choroid plexus and in a portion of the ependymal cells lining the third ventricle. Mass spectrometry showed that affinity-purified SHBG from the hypothalamus and choroid plexus is structurally similar to the SHBG identified in the CSF. The multiple localizations of SHBG suggest neurohypophyseal and neuroendocrine functions. The biochemical data suggest that CSF SHBG is of brain rather than blood origin.