Immunocytochemical characterization of the pregeniculate nucleus and distribution of retinal and neuropeptide Y terminals in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the Cebus monkey

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Elsevier B.V.


Circadian rhythms generated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) are modulated by photic and non-photic stimuli. In rodents, direct photic stimuli reach the SCN mainly through the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT), whereas indirect photic stimuli are mainly conveyed by the geniculohypothalamic tract (GHT). In rodents, retinal cells form a pathway that reaches the intergeniculate leaflet (IGL) where they establish synapses with neurons that express neuropeptide Y (NPY), hence forming the GHT projecting to the SCN. In contrast to the RHT, which has been well described in primates, data regarding the presence or absence of the IGL and GHT in primates are contradictory. Some studies have suggested that an area of the pregeniculate nucleus (PGN) of primates might be homologous to the IGL of rodents, but additional anatomical and functional studies on primate species are necessary to confirm this hypothesis. Therefore, this study investigated the main histochemical characteristics of the PGN and the possible existence of the GHT in the SCN of the primate Cebus, comparing the distribution of NPY immunoreactivity, serotonin (5-HT) immunoreactivity and retinal terminal fibers in these two structures. The results show that a collection of cell bodies containing NPY and serotonergic immunoreactivity and retinal innervations are present within a zone that might be homologous to the IGL of rodents. The SCN also receives dense retinal innervations and we observed an atypical distribution of NPY- and 5-HT-immunoreactive fibers without regionalization in the ventral part of the nucleus as described for other species. These data may reflect morphological differences in the structures involved in the regulation of circadian rhythms among species and support the hypothesis that the GHT is present in some higher primates (diurnal animals). (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



Biological rhythms, Retinohypothalamic tract, Geniculohypothalamic tract, Primate, Circadian rhythms

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Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. Amsterdam: Elsevier B.V., v. 37, n. 4, p. 207-213, 2009.