Characterization of subpopulations of neurons producing melanin-concentrating hormone in the rat ventral diencephalon

J Neurochem. 2004 Nov;91(4):911-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2004.02776.x.


Neurons producing melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) are involved in a large array of functions. Some of these functions may be mediated by specific subpopulations. One such subpopulation was characterized by the expression of the neurokinin 3 receptor and the 'cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript' (CART) peptide, while another expresses neither one of these two molecules. MCH+/CART+ axons were traced throughout the brain and showed a strikingly different pattern of distribution than that of MCH+/CART- axons. Particularly, many MCH+/CART+ axons are observed in the telencephalon, while MCH+/CART- projections are mostly directed toward the brainstem. Calbindin, a protein involved in calcium homeostasis, has been largely used in many structures of the brain for the identification of neuronal phenotypes. However, few MCH neurons were labeled for this protein. On the other hand, neurons producing the peptides hypocretins (Hcrt), and codistributed with the MCH neurons, were all labeled for calbindin. Thus, at least two subpopulations of MCH neurons can be distinguished on the basis of neuronal phenotypes and connections. These neurons may be involved in distinct circuitry and in distinct functions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Calbindins
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Diencephalon / cytology
  • Diencephalon / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / biosynthesis*
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Melanins / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / biosynthesis
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Orexins
  • Pituitary Hormones / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3 / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / biosynthesis


  • Calbindins
  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Melanins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Orexins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript protein
  • melanin-concentrating hormone
  • Colchicine