Development of the diencephalon in the rat. I. Autoradiographic study of the time of origin and settling patterns of neurons of the hypothalamus

J Comp Neurol. 1978 Dec 15;182(4 Pt 2):945-71. doi: 10.1002/cne.901820511.


Groups of pregnant rats were injected with two successive daily doses of 3H-thymidine from gestational day 13 (E13 + 14) until the day before birth (E21 + 22). This double labelling procedure was combined with an injection schedule of a single day delay between groups (E13 + 14; E14 + 15; E15 + 16 . .). The two injections assured the comprehensive labelling of practically all neurons of a given structure prior to the onset of their differentiation (comprehensive labelling), whereas the progressive daily delay in injections made it possible to estimate the proportion of neurons formed in various regions of the hypothalamus on a single day. Hypothalamic areas or nuclei were assigned into four classes on the basis of their cytogenetic isochronicity. Structures composed of the earliest arising (class 1) neurons constitute a lateral tier that includes the lateral preoptic and lateral hypothalamic areas, and the lateral mammillary nucleus. Structures composed of early arising (class 2) neurons form a heterogeneous collection of nuclear systems, including the paraventricular, internuclear and supraoptic magnocellular neurons, and several intermediate tier nuclei of the anterior and posterior hypothalamus. The late arising (class 3) and latest arising (class 4) nuclei constitute a periventricular system anteriorly and a more extensive region posteriorly. The latter two nuclear systems may constitute the hypophysiotropic area of the hypothalamus. The nuclei of the mammillary system, which are produced sequentially, are distinguished from other hypothalamic structures by their more rapid generation time. Internuclear labelling gradients were used to infer the neuroepithelial site of origin and settling pattern of neurons. Common sites of origin were indicated for the following structures: the magnocellular neurohypophysial neurons; the neurons of the dorsomedial and ventromedial nuclei; and the neurons of the tubermammillary and arcuate nuclei. The sites of origin of these groups of nuclei were related to specialized ventricular linings in the mature hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Gestational Age
  • Hypothalamus / embryology*
  • Hypothalamus / growth & development
  • Mammillary Bodies / embryology
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / embryology
  • Preoptic Area / embryology
  • Rats
  • Supraoptic Nucleus / embryology