Early development of the hypothalamus of a wallaby (Macropus eugenii)



We have studied the development of the hypothalamus of an Australian marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), to provide an initial anatomic framework for future research on the developing hypothalamus of diprotodontid metatheria. Cytoarchitectural (hematoxylin and eosin), immunohistochemical (CD15 and growth associated protein, GAP-43), tritiated thymidine autoradiography, and carbocyanine dye tracing techniques were applied. Until 12 days after birth (P12), the developing hypothalamus consisted of mainly a ventricular germinal zone with a thin marginal layer, but by P25, most hypothalamic nuclei were well differentiated, indicating that the bulk of hypothalamic cytoarchitectural development occurs between P12 and P25. Strong CD15 immunoreactivity was found in radial glial fibers in the rostral hypothalamus during early developmental ages, separating individual hypothalamic compartments. Immunoreactivity for GAP-43 was used to reveal developing fiber bundles. The medial forebrain bundle was apparent by P0, and the fornix appeared at P12. Tritiated thymidine autoradiography revealed lateral-to-medial and dorsal-to-ventral neurogenetic gradients similar to those seen in rodents. Dye tracing showed that projections to the posterior pituitary arose from the supraoptic nucleus at P5 and from the paraventricular nucleus at P10. Projections to the medulla were first found from the lateral hypothalamic area at P0 and paraventricular nucleus at P10. In conclusion, the pattern of development of the wallaby hypothalamus is broadly similar to that found in eutheria, with comparable neurogenetic compartments to those identified in rodents. Because most hypothalamic maturation takes place after birth, wallabies provide a useful model for experimentally manipulating the developing mammalian hypothalamus. J. Comp. Neurol. 453:199–215, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.