Orexin-A and orexin-B are hypothalamic neuropeptides isolated from a small group of neurons in the hypothalamus, which project their axons to all major parts of the central nervous system. Despite the extensive information about orexin expression and function at different parts of the nervous system in adults, data about the development and maturation of the orexin system in the brain are a bit contradictory and insufficient. A previous study has found expression of orexins in the hypothalamus after postnatal day 15 only, while others report orexins detection at embryonic stages of brain formation. In the present study, we investigated the distribution of orexin-A and orexin-B neuronal cell bodies and fibers in the brain at three different postnatal stages: 1-week-, 2-week-old and adult rats. By means of immunohistochemical techniques, we demonstrated that a small subset of cells in the lateral hypothalamus, and the perifornical and periventricular areas were orexin-A and orexin-B positive not only in 2-week-old and adult rats but also in 1-week-old animals. In addition, orexin-A and orexin-B expressing neuronal varicosities were found in many other brain regions. These results suggest that orexin-A and orexin-B play an important role in the early postnatal brain development. The widespread distribution of orexinergic projections through all these stages may imply an involvement of the two neurotransmitters in a large variety of physiological and behavioral processes also including higher brain functions like learning and memory.
- Orexin-A - Orexin-B - Postnatal brain development - Immunocytochemistry - Rat
- BSS-Neurotechnology and cellular engineering