The accessory magnocellular neurosecretory system of the rostral human hypothalamus

Cell and Tissue Research, Springer Nature, ISSN 0302-766X

Volume 373, 2, 2018

DOI:10.1007/s00441-018-2818-x, Dimensions: pub.1101555199, PMID: 29549435,



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  2. (2) Department of Forensic Medicine, Section of Forensic Pathology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Frederik V’s Vej 11, 2100, Copenhagen, Denmark






The morphology and neurophysin expression of the magnocellular accessory neuroendocrine system located in the rostral human hypothalamus is investigated in a series of brains obtained at autopsy. The hypothalami were fixed in formalin and embedded in paraffin, or after cryoprotection, frozen for cryostat sectioning. Paraffin sections were either stained with Luxol Fast blue or immunoreacted for neurophysin I or neurophysin II, the precursor molecule for oxytocin and vasopressin. Further, 50-μm-thick serial cryostat sections were immunoreacted with the same antibodies. Both the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei as well as the hypothalamo-hypophysial tracts exhibited strong immunoreactivity for the neurophysin antibodies. In addition, large collections of immunoreactive accessory magnocellular nuclei and single scattered neurophysin-positive neurons were located in the preoptic region between the paraventricular and supraoptic nucleus among the hypothalamo-hypophysial nerve fibers. In addition, smaller collections of neurophysin-immunoreactive neurons were located in the basal part of this region. Among the accessory magnocellular nuclei, the classical circular nucleus was identified. Accessory magnocellular neurons were often located along the blood vessels and projections of some of these neurons penetrated the vascular endothelium. The accessory magnocellular cell bodies expressed either neurophysin I or neurophysin II immunoreactivity. Summarizing, the accessory magnocellular system in the human brain is large and differs in morphology compared to the system seen in other vertebrates. The neurons of this system contain both vasopressin and oxytocin. Some neurons of the accessory neuronal systems might secrete vasopressin or oxytocin directly into the blood stream.


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