Postnatal changes in the density and distribution of neurotensin‐like immunoreactive fibers in the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus in the rat

James P. Ray, Joseph L. Price

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18 Scopus citations


A previous report (Inagaki et al., Brain Res. 260:143‐146, '83) suggested that the peptide neurotensin is contained in neurons of the piriform cortex that project to the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus MD in young rats. To confirm this, we have studied the distribution of neurotensin‐like immunoreactive NTIR fibers in MD during development, using three antisera directed at different parts of the neurotensin molecule Emson et al., J. Neurochem. 38:992‐999, 82. In adult rats, NTIR fibers in MD are sparse. They are located mostly at the medial edge of MD and in the adjacent midline thalamic nuclei, with a few poorly stained NTIR fibers in the central part of MD. In contrast, during the first postnatal week, both the medial and central portions of MD stain heavily for neurotensin. The density of NTIR fibers in MD then progressively decreases until the density typical of adult rats is reached, at about 5 weeks. Changes in the distribution of NTIR fibers in MD also occur. In 7‐day‐old rats, the patches of NTIR fibers in the medial and central parts of MD are contiguous, but by 10 days a sparsely immunoreactive zone forms between them. With maturation, this zone enlarges as the density of neurotensin staining decreases, until the medial contingent of NTIR fibers reaches its adult position at the medial edge of MD. From a comparison of the distribution of NTIR cells with that of cells that can be retrogradely labeled from MD or the midline thalamus, the probable source of the NTIR fibers to the central part of MD is in the deep layer of the piriform cortex, while the NTIR fibers to the medial edge of MD and the midline nuclei may arise from the preoptic region and the medial amygdala. In neonatal rats, neurons are found in the piriform cortex, the preoptic region, and the medial amygdala, which can be double‐labeled both for neurotensin and with a retrograde tracer injected into MD and the midline thalamus. Projections of the preoptic region to the thalamus have a distribution similar to that of the medial population of NTIR fibers, whereas the distribution of piriform cortical afferents in central MD matches the central patch of NTIR fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-282
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 8 1990


  • maturation
  • peptides
  • piriform cortex
  • preoptic region


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