Abnormal hypothalamic oxytocin system in fibroblast growth factor 8-deficient mice
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- Brooks, L.R., Chung, W.C.J. & Tsai, PS. Endocr (2010) 38: 174. doi:10.1007/s12020-010-9366-9
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Oxytocin (OT) is a nonapeptide essential for maternal care. The development of the OT neuroendocrine system is a multi-step process dependent on the action of many transcription factors, but upstream signaling molecules regulating this process are still poorly understood. In this study, we examined if fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8), a signaling molecule critical for forebrain development, is essential for the proper formation of the OT system. Using immunohistochemistry, we showed a significant reduction in the number of neurons immunoreactive for the mature OT peptide in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and supraoptic nucleus (SON) in the hypothalamus of homozygous (HOMO) FGF8 hypomorphic mice compared to wild-type mice. The number of neurons positive for oxyphysin prohormone in the SON but not the PVN was also significantly reduced in FGF8 HOMO hypomorphs. However, steady-state mRNA levels of the oxyphysin prohormone were not significantly different between FGF8 hypomorphs and WT mice. These data suggest that a global reduction in FGF8 signaling leads to an overall reduction of mature OT and oxyphysin prohormone levels that may have resulted from defects in multiple stages of the hormone-synthesis pathway. Since proper hormone synthesis is a hallmark of mature OT neurons, this study suggests that FGF8 signaling may contribute to the phenotypic maturation of a neuroendocrine system that originates within the diencephalon.