A comparative analysis shows morphofunctional differences between the rat and mouse melanin-concentrating hormone systems

PLoS One. 2010 Nov 17;5(11):e15471. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015471.


Sub-populations of neurons producing melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) are characterized by distinct projection patterns, birthdates and CART/NK3 expression in rat. Evidence for such sub-populations has not been reported in other species. However, given that genetically engineered mouse lines are now commonly used as experimental models, a better characterization of the anatomy and morphofunctionnal organization of MCH system in this species is then necessary. Combining multiple immunohistochemistry experiments with in situ hybridization, tract tracing or BrdU injections, evidence supporting the hypothesis that rat and mouse MCH systems are not identical was obtained: sub-populations of MCH neurons also exist in mouse, but their relative abundance is different. Furthermore, divergences in the distribution of MCH axons were observed, in particular in the ventromedial hypothalamus. These differences suggest that rat and mouse MCH neurons are differentially involved in anatomical networks that control feeding and the sleep/wake cycle.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / genetics
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Hypothalamus / embryology
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Melanins / genetics
  • Melanins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pituitary Hormones / genetics
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3 / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Melanins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-3
  • cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript protein
  • melanin-concentrating hormone