Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 207, Issue 3, pp 233–253 | Cite as

Cyto- and chemoarchitecture of the hypothalamus of a wallaby (Macropus eugenii) with special emphasis on oxytocin and vasopressinergic neurons

  • Gang Cheng
  • L. R. Marotte
  • K. W. S. AshwellEmail author
Original Article


We have studied the organization of the hypothalamus in an Australian diprotodontid metatherian mammal, the wallaby (Macropus eugenii), using cytoarchitectural, histochemical and immunohistochemical techniques. Coronal sections of adult brains were processed for Nissl staining, histochemical reactivity (cytochrome oxidase, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase and acetylcholinesterase) and immunohistochemistry (antibodies to tyrosine hydroxylase, calbindin, calretinin, non-phosphorylated neurofilament protein, oxytocin and vasopressin). The distribution of immunoreactive neurons for these substances was mapped with the aid of a computer-linked microscope. In general, the wallaby hypothalamus showed a similar nuclear organization to that seen in rodents. The paraventricular nucleus could be divided into several subdivisions based on the different cellular parcellation, similar to that described in rodents. The ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus had cell-sparse dorsomedial and cell-dense ventrolateral subdivisions as seen in eutheria, suggesting a similar functional compartmentalization in all theria. The positions of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons in the wallaby hypothalamus were also similar to those in eutheria. Oxytocin and vasopressinergic neurons were found in all the same major nuclear groups as seen in eutheria, although a nucleus circularis could not be identified. The general similarities between wallaby and eutherian hypothalamus indicate that the basic chemo- and cytoarchitectural features of the hypothalamus are common to eutheria and metatheria and validate the use of the wallaby as a mammalian model of wide applicability in investigations of hypothalamic functional development.


Marsupial Calbindin Calretinin Tyrosine hydroxylase Paraventricular 



third ventricle


anterior commissure




anterior hypothalamic area


amygdaloid nucleus


anterior region of the hypothalamus


arcuate nucleus


bed nuclei of stria terminalis


blood vessel




cytochrome oxidase


cerebral peduncle




dorsomedial nuclear complex




gemini hypothalamic nucleus


nuclei of the horizontal limb of the diagonal band of Broca


internal capsule


infundibular recess


infundibular stem


lateral globus pallidus


lateral hypothalamic area


lateral mammillary nucleus


lateral preoptic region


mammillary body


magnocellular nucleus of the lateral hypothalamus


magnocellular preoptic nucleus


medial forebrain bundle


medial globus pallidus


medial lemniscus


lateral mammillary nucleus


medial mammillary nucleus


median mammillary nucleus


posterior mammillary nucleus


medial preoptic area


medial preoptic nucleus


mammillary recess


mammillothalamic tract


mammillotegmental tract


medial tuberal nucleus


NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) diaphorase


nigrostriatal bundle


optic tract


optic chiasm


paraventricular nucleus


periventricular nucleus


perifornical nucleus


periventricular preoptic area


posterior hypothalamic nucleus




preoptic region of the hypothalamus


parasubthalamic nucleus


retrochiasmatic area


reuniens thalamic nucleus


reticular thalamic nucleus


suprachiasmatic nucleus


substantia innominata


nucleus of the stria medullaris


SMI-32 antibody against non-phosphorylated neurofilament protein


superior medullary velum


supraoptic nucleus, in general


supraoptic nucleus, anterior part


supraoptic nucleus, retrochiasmatic part


subthalamic nucleus


lateral supramammillary nucleus


medial supramammillary nucleus


terete nucleus




tyrosine hydroxylase


tuberal region of the hypothalamus


nuclei of the vertical limb of the diagonal band of Broca


ventrolateral preoptic nucleus


ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus


ventromedial preoptic nucleus


ventral marginal zone


ventral pallidum


ventral tuberomammillary region


xiphoid thalamic nucleus


zona incerta



We would like to thank Dr. Luanling Zhang for his invaluable assistance in histochemical and immunohistochemical staining of some of the wallaby tissue, Emeritus Professor Richard Mark for correction of the manuscript, Mr. Kevin Williams and Ms. Michelle Maier for care of the wallaby colony and Dr. Roger Meischke for veterinary advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gang Cheng
    • 1
  • L. R. Marotte
    • 2
  • K. W. S. Ashwell
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of AnatomySchool of Medical Sciences of the University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Developmental Neurobiology and Endocrinology Group, Research School of Biological SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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