Ultrastructure of the hypothalamic neurosecretory system of the dog

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Summary

The hypothalamic neurosecretory system of normal dogs was studied by light and electron microscopy after perfusion-fixation. In the supraoptic nucleus most neurons are loaded with elementary neurosecretory granules having a content of low electron density. Neurons with less neurosecretory material and signs of enhanced synthetic activity, as recognized by the changes in the endoplasmic reticulum, were also observed.

The vesiculated neurons ofJewell were studied under the electron microscope and various stages of development were described. It was postulated that they originate by a localized process of cytoplasmic cytolysis which ends in the formation of a large aqueous intracellular cavity limited by a plasma membrane. The possible significance of these vesiculated neurones is discussed. Some few myelinated neurosecretory axons are found in the supraoptic nucleus.

The neurons of the paraventricular nucleus are smaller and contain less neurosecretory material. This is abundant and very pale in the axons. The median eminence consists of an inner zone, mainly occupied by the neurosecretory axons of the hypothalamic-neurohypophysial tracts, and an outer zone in which some neurosecretory axons end on the capillary of the portal system. This outer zone contains numerous axons with the axoplasm rich in neurofilaments and some containing granulated and non-granulated synaptic vesicles. Some neurons with granulated vesicles were observed in this region. The adrenergic nature of these neurons and axons is postulated.

The infundibular process of the neurohypophysis shows small axons with discrete amounts of elementary granules and vesicles of synaptic type at the endings. Some enlarged axons having, in addition, large polymorphic bodies are observed and related to the Herring bodies.

The size and morphology of the granules are analyzed along the entire hypothalamic-neurohypophysial system. The changes in diameter and electron density are related to the maturation of the granules and the possible significance of such evolution.

Supported by grants from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Técnicas and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AF-AFOSR 963-66).