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Keywords:

  • corticotropin releasing hormone;
  • arginine vasopressin;
  • mRNA expression;
  • in situ hybridization;
  • bed nucleus of the stria terminalis

Abstract

The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) occupies a central position in pathways regulating hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) stress regulation. The potential role of the BNST in tonic neural control of HPA function was assessed by examining effects of selective BNST lesions on expression of ACTH secretagogues in HPA-integrative neurons of the medial parvocellular paraventricular nucleus. Anterior BNST lesions (ABN) involved major portions of the anteromedial, anterolateral, ventromedial, ventrolateral, dorsolateral and juxtacapsular subnuclei. These lesions resulted in significant (30%) decreases in corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) mRNA expression across the rostrocaudal extent of the medial parvocellular PVN, with no accompanying changes in basal arginine vasopressin (AVP) mRNA levels. Posterior BNST (PBN) lesions involved large but subtotal damage to the posterior intermediate, posterior medial, posterior lateral and preoptic subnuclei; these lesions resulted in small but significant changes in CRH mRNA and slight increases in number of AVP mRNA-producing parvocellular neurons. PBN effects on CRH mRNA expression were most pronounced at the caudal extent of the medial parvocellular zone, suggesting a topographic input from the posterior BNST to the PVN that is only partially compromised by PBN lesions. Analysis of individual cases revealed a correlation between damage of the anterolateral BNST and decreased CRH mRNA levels, and damage of the posterior intermediate and/or posterior medial BNST and increased CRH mRNA levels. The results suggest differential BNST input into HPA regulation, perhaps reflecting the diversity of limbic input into the BNST region.