Abstract / Description of output
The hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nucleus contain magnocellular neurosecretory cells (MNCs) that project to the posterior pituitary gland where they secrete either oxytocin or vasopressin (the anti-diuretic hormone) into the circulation. Oxytocin is important for delivery at birth and is essential for milk ejection during suckling. Vasopressin primarily promotes water reabsorption in the kidney to maintain body fluid balance, but also increases vasoconstriction. The profile of oxytocin and vasopressin secretion is principally determined by the pattern of action potentials initiated at the cell bodies. While it has long been known that the activity of MNCs depends upon afferent inputs that relay information on reproductive, osmotic and cardiovascular status, it has recently become clear that activity depends critically on local regulation by glial cells, as well as intrinsic regulation by the MNCs themselves. Here, we provide an overview of recent advances in our understanding of how intrinsic and local extrinsic mechanisms integrate with afferent inputs to generate appropriate physiological regulation of oxytocin and vasopressin MNC activity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.