Organization of projections from the anterior hypothalamic nucleus: a Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin study in the rat

J Comp Neurol. 1994 Oct 1;348(1):1-40. doi: 10.1002/cne.903480102.


Anterior hypothalamic nucleus (AHN) projections were examined with the Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) method in adult male rats. Labeled axons from the AHN follow three major routes. 1) A large ascending pathway ends densely in the telencephalon, particularly in the lateral septal nucleus. Axons along this route provide moderate to dense input to the medial and lateral preoptic areas, and a few are also observed in the septofimbrial nucleus and fimbria; the latter end in the temporal hippocampus. A few axons reach the amygdala through the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis, which receive a moderate input, and then the stria terminalis, and others reach it by way of the ansa peduncularis. 2) The second pathway travels dorsal to the AHN, ending densely in rostral perifornical regions of the lateral hypothalamic area, and the rostral ventrolateral tip of the nucleus reuniens. The parataenial and rostral paraventricular thalamic nuclei also receive a significant input. Some fibers and boutons were also observed in the rhomboid, interanterodorsal, and mediodorsal nuclei, and others course through the stria medullaris to the lateral habenula. 3) the largest pathway descends through dorsal and ventral routes in the medial hypothalamic zone before ending massively in the periaqueductal gray. Dorsal route fibers provide inputs to the zona incerta and posterior hypothalamic nucleus, whereas more ventral axons generate dense terminal fields in the ventromedial nucleus capsule and core, and dorsal premammillary nucleus. The retrochiasmatic area, dorsomedial nucleus, and medial supramammillary nucleus also receive significant inputs, and a few axons end in the subparafascicular nucleus, superior colliculus, and mammillary body. The caudalmost axons were seen in the pontine central gray and reticular formation. These pathways are bilateral, usually with a distinct ipsilateral predominance. The overall pattern of efferents from anterior, central, and posterior parts of the AHN is similar, whereas the relative densities of particular terminal fields may vary considerably. Projections from adjacent parts of the retrochiasmatic and perifornical areas are also described. The results are discussed in terms of neural circuitry that may be involved in mediating interactions between animals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Male
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants