Stimulation of the paraventricular nucleus modulates the activity of gut-sensitive neurons in the vagal complex

Am J Physiol. 1999 Jul;277(1):G79-90. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1999.277.1.G79.


There is good evidence that stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus excites neurons in the dorsal vagal complex (DVC), but the data regarding the role of the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) in vagal function are less clear. The purpose of this study was to clarify the effect of PVN stimulation on the activity of neurons in the DVC. We utilized extracellular and intracellular neuronal recordings with intracellular injections of a neuronal tracer to label individual, physiologically characterized neurons in the DVC of rats anesthetized with pentobarbital sodium. Most (80%) of the gut-sensitive dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMNV) neurons characterized in this study exhibited a change in activity during electrical stimulation of the PVN. Stimulation of the PVN caused an increase in the spontaneous activity of 59% of the PVN-sensitive DMNV neurons, and the PVN was capable of modulating the response of a small subset of DMNV neurons to gastrointestinal stimuli. This study also demonstrated that the PVN was capable of influencing the activity of neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST). Electrical stimulation of the PVN decreased the basal activity of 66% of the NST cells that we characterized and altered the gastrointestinal response of a very small subset of NST neurons. It is likely that these interactions play a role in the modulation of a number of gut-related homeostatic processes. Increased or decreased activity in the descending pathway from the PVN to the DVC has the potential to alter ascending satiety signals, modulate vago-vagal reflexes and the cephalic phase of feeding, and affect the absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digestive System Physiological Phenomena
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Solitary Nucleus / cytology
  • Solitary Nucleus / physiology
  • Vagus Nerve / cytology
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*