Somatostatin Actions on Rat Supraoptic Nucleus Oxytocin and Vasopressin Neurones

S. L. Meddle, P. M. Bull, G. Leng, J. A. Russell, M. Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Magnocellular neurones in the supraoptic nucleus (SON) receive major afferent inputs from the brainstem that have been implicated in the regulation of oxytocin and vasopressin secretion from the posterior pituitary. Notably, at parturition, some neurones that project from the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) in the brainstem directly to the SON are activated. Many of these are noradrenergic and regulate oxytocin secretion during parturition, whereas others contain somatostatin and their role is unclear. In the present study, we report that, at parturition, somatostatin mRNA expression in the NTS is significantly increased compared to pregnancy, suggesting an active role for these neurones at that time. Intracerebroventricular somatostatin infusion significantly increased plasma oxytocin secretion in both virgin female and pregnant rats. Intracerebroventricular somatostatin increased SON oxytocin and vasopressin neurone firing-rates, and increased Fos expression in the SON and paraventricular nucleus and in the subfornical organ. Retrodialysis of somatostatin onto the ventrally exposed SON also increased vasopressin neurone firing rate but, unexpectedly, decreased oxytocin neurone firing rate. The experiments indicate that somatostatin neurones in the NTS are activated during parturition but, because the direct effects of somatostatin on oxytocin neurones are inhibitory, this direct pathway does not appear to contribute to enhanced oxytocin release at this time, although indirect somatostatin effects may do so.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-445
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • brainstem
  • hypothalamus
  • oxytocin
  • post-partum
  • pregnancy
  • vasopressin


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