Lateral hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone neurons: distribution and relationship to histochemically defined cell populations in the rat

Neuroscience. 2014 Sep 26;277:87-102. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.06.043. Epub 2014 Jun 30.


The lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) constitutes a large component of the hypothalamus, and has been implicated in several aspects of motivated behavior. The LHA is of particular relevance to behavioral state control and the maintenance of arousal. Due to the cellular heterogeneity of this region, however, only some subpopulations of LHA cells have been properly anatomically characterized. Here, we have focused on cells expressing thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), a peptide found in the LHA that has been implicated as a promoter of arousal. Immunofluorescence and in situ hybridization were used to map the LHA TRH population in the rat, and cells were observed to form a large ventral cluster that extended throughout almost the entire rostro-caudal axis of the hypothalamus. Almost no examples of coexistence were seen when sections were double-stained for TRH and markers of other LHA populations, including the peptides hypocretin/orexin, melanin-concentrating hormone and neurotensin. In the juxtaparaventricular area, however, a discrete group of TRH-immunoreactive cells were also stained with antisera against enkephalin and urocortin 3. Innervation from the metabolically sensitive hypothalamic arcuate nucleus was investigated by double-staining for peptide markers of the two centrally projecting groups of arcuate neurons, agouti gene-related peptide and α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, respectively; both populations of terminals were observed forming close appositions on TRH cells in the LHA. The present study indicates that TRH-expressing cells form a unique population in the LHA that may serve as a link between metabolic signals and the generation of arousal.

Keywords: arcuate nucleus; arousal; coexistence; immunofluorescence; in situ hybridization; neuropeptide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Enkephalins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / cytology*
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neurotensin / metabolism
  • Orexins
  • Photomicrography
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Urocortins / metabolism
  • alpha-MSH / metabolism


  • Enkephalins
  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Melanins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Orexins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Urocortins
  • urocortin 3, rat
  • Neurotensin
  • alpha-MSH
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • melanin-concentrating hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone