• tracing;
  • immunocytochemistry;
  • immunofluorescence;
  • lesion


The rat brain contains a large number of vasopressin (VP) immunoreactive fibers, the sites of origin of which have not yet been established completely. For instance, the sources of VP fiber systems in the amygdala, ventral hippocampus (VH), mediodorsal thalamic nucleus, ventral tegmental area, and dorsal raphe yet remain obscure. These VP fibers may originate in any of the recently described extrahypothalamic VP cell groups, viz., medial amygdaloid nucleus (AME), dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus, or locus coeruleus, since VP efferents from these cells still remain to be demonstrated. In search of AME VP efferents three approaches were followed: (1) the Phaseolus vulgaris anterograde tracing method, (2) immunocytochemistry after AME lesioning, and (3) retrograde transport of a fluorescent dye in combination with immunofluorescence. The results demonstrate that VP cells in the AME project to (1) the lateral septum (LS) by the ventral amygdalofugal pathway and (2) the VH via the amygdalohippocampal transition zone. In addition, the VP projection from the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) to the LS was confirmed. There was no indication that VP cells in the AME project through the amygdalotegmental pathway to the medulla oblongata and spinal cord. The results support the possibility that the BST and AME are an anatomical entity that may be part of the central loci controlling sexual processes in the rat.