Differential distribution of hypocretin (orexin) and melanin-concentrating hormone in the goldfish brain

J Comp Neurol. 2005 Aug 8;488(4):476-91. doi: 10.1002/cne.20610.


The orexigenic peptides hypocretin (orexin) and melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) are involved in the control of food intake and in other homeostatic functions including sleep and arousal. In this article we study the distribution of these peptides in the brain of the goldfish (Carassius auratus), focusing on those regions particularly related to feeding, sleep, and arousal. Although the general distribution of these peptides in goldfish shows many similarities to those described previously in other species, we observed some noteworthy differences. As in other vertebrates, the peptidergic somata lie in the anterolateral hypothalamus. In goldfish, both hypocretin and MCH immunoreactive cell bodies project fibers to the ventral telencephalon, thalamus, and hypothalamus. At mesencephalic levels fibers reach the deep layers of the optic tectum and also course sparsely through the mesencephalic tegmentum. In contrast to the strong innervation of locus coeruleus and raphe in mammal, the MCH and hypocretin systems in goldfish barely innervate these aminergic populations related to the regulation of sleep and arousal. MCH, but not hypocretin, immunoreactive fibers terminate substantially in the sensory layer of the vagal gustatory lobe of goldfish, while both peptidergic systems distribute to the primary visceral sensory areas of the medulla and pons. The strong involvement of these peptidergic systems with the hypothalamus and general visceral nuclei, but not with locus coeruleus or raphe nuclei support the view that these peptides originally played a role in regulation of energy balance and evolved secondarily to influence sleep-wakefulness systems in amniote vertebrates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Goldfish / anatomy & histology
  • Goldfish / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Melanins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Orexins
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Melanins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • melanin-concentrating hormone