Expression of early growth response protein 1 in vasopressin neurones of the rat anterior olfactory nucleus following social odour exposure


Corresponding author M. Ludwig: Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Bldg, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9XD, UK.  Email:


The anterior olfactory nucleus (AON), a component of the main olfactory system, is a cortical region that processes olfactory information and acts as a relay between the main olfactory bulbs and higher brain regions such as the piriform cortex. Utilizing a transgenic rat in which an enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter gene is expressed in vasopressin neurones (eGFP-vasopressin), we have discovered a population of vasopressin neurones in the AON. These vasopressin neurones co-express vasopressin V1 receptors. They also co-express GABA and calbinin-D28k indicating that they are neurochemically different from the newly described vasopressin neurons in the main olfactory bulb. We utilized the immediate early gene product, early growth response protein 1 (Egr-1), to examine the functional role of these vasopressin neurons in processing social and non-social odours in the AON. Exposure of adult rats to a conspecific juvenile or a heterospecific predator odour leads to increases in Egr-1 expression in the AON in a subregion specific manner. However, only exposure to a juvenile increases Egr-1 expression in AON vasopressin neurons. These data suggest that vasopressin neurones in the AON may be selectively involved in the coding of social odour information.