Unified Classification of Molecular, Network, and Endocrine Features of Hypothalamic Neurons

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2019 Jul 8;42:1-26. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-070918-050414. Epub 2019 Feb 8.


Peripheral endocrine output relies on either direct or feed-forward multi-order command from the hypothalamus. Efficient coding of endocrine responses is made possible by the many neuronal cell types that coexist in intercalated hypothalamic nuclei and communicate through extensive synaptic connectivity. Although general anatomical and neurochemical features of hypothalamic neurons were described during the past decades, they have yet to be reconciled with recently discovered molecular classifiers and neurogenetic function determination. By interrogating magnocellular as well as parvocellular dopamine, GABA, glutamate, and phenotypically mixed neurons, we integrate available information at the molecular, cellular, network, and endocrine output levels to propose a framework for the comprehensive classification of hypothalamic neurons. Simultaneously, we single out putative neuronal subclasses for which future research can fill in existing gaps of knowledge to rationalize cellular diversity through function-determinant molecular marks in the hypothalamus.

Keywords: cellular taxonomy; magnocellular cells; neuroendocrine output; neuropeptide; parvocellular systems; single-cell transcriptomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Connectome
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / analysis
  • Hypothalamus / cytology*
  • Nerve Net / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / classification*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / analysis
  • Peptide Hormones / analysis
  • Single-Cell Analysis


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Peptide Hormones