Heterogeneity in the neuropeptide Y-containing neurons of the rat arcuate nucleus: GABAergic and non-GABAergic subpopulations

Brain Res. 1997 May 9;756(1-2):283-6. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(97)00184-4.


Neuropeptide Y, produced in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, plays a key role in the central regulation of anterior pituitary and appetitive functions. The pleiotropic nature of neuropeptide Y in these mechanisms indicates the existence of heterogeneity in the hypothalamic neuronal population producing neuropeptide Y. In this study, we report the coexistence of neuropeptide Y and the amino acid transmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), in neuronal perikarya of the arcuate nucleus. Fluorescent double immunolabeling for neuropeptide Y and glutamic acid decarboxylase was carried out on vibratome sections collected through the hypothalamic arcuate nuclei of animals that were pretreated with colchicine. It was found that about one third of the neuropeptide Y-producing arcuate nucleus perikarya co-expressed glutamic acid decarboxylase. This population of neuropeptide Y-containing GABAergic neurons were distributed longitudinally within the arcuate nucleus located predominantly in its dorsomedial aspects. These results show that there are at least two distinct populations of neuropeptide Y-producing neurons in the arcuate nucleus: a subset of neuropeptide Y and GABA-co-producing neurons located in the dorsomedial arcuate nucleus and a subset of non-GABAergic neuropeptide Y cells located in the ventral arcuate nucleus. This heterogeneity in the neuropeptide Y-producing perikarya of the hypothalamus may help explain adverse neuroendocrine and behavioral effects of arcuate nucleus neuropeptide Y.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorescein
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rhodamines
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Rhodamines
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • Fluorescein