Bernstein HG, Keilhoff G, Seidel B, Stanarius A, Huang PL, Fishman MC, Reiser M, Bogerts B, Wolf G. 1998. Expression of hypothalamic peptides in mice lacking neuronal nitric oxide synthase: reduced beta-END immunoreactivity in the arcuate nucleus. Neuroendocrinology. 68(6):403-11. Pubmed: 9873204


The gas nitric oxide (NO) is an important messenger in brain signaling. Along with many other functions, NO is thought to influence the expression and/or release of various hypothalamic hormones (corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and vasopressin). To learn more about the role of NO in neuroendocrine mechanisms, we studied in mutant mice lacking neuronal isoform of NO synthase (nNOS) the cellular expression of CRH, neurophysin (the carrier protein of vasopressin/oxytocin) and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), as well as of the POMC-derived peptides beta-endorphin (beta-END), alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) and corticotropin (ACTH) by use of immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Additionally, the remaining NO-generating capacities of the nNOS minus mice were investigated by NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry and citrulline immunohistochemistry as well as by immunohistochemical localization and Western blot analysis of endothelial NOS (eNOS) and nNOS isoforms. Amongst all hypothalamic peptides under investigation, only beta-END was found to be altered in mutant mice. A morphometric analysis of beta-END producing neurons of the arcuate nucleus revealed that significantly less cells were immunoreactive in mutant mice, whereas the expression of the precursor POMC as well as of other POMC-derived peptides was found to be unchanged. In addition to that, fewer beta-END-immunoreactive fibers were found in the paraventricular nucleus of nNOS minus mice in comparison to wild-type animals. Hence, the reduction of hypothalamic beta-END is probably a posttranslational event that might reflect a disturbed endorphinergic innervation of those hypothalamic neurons which normally express nNOS.

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Photo of Mark C. Fishman

Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

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