Kainic Acid Lesion of Vasopressinergic Neurons in the Hypothalamus Disrupts Flank Marking Behavior in Golden Hamsters

Craig F. Ferris, Robert W. Irvin, Michael Potegal, John F. Axelson

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31 Scopus citations


It is well established that flank marking behavior in the Golden hamster is controlled by vasopressin‐sensitive neurons localized to the anterior hypothalamus; however, the source(s) of vasopressinergic innervation to this area is unknown. Previous analysis by immunocytochemistry showed distinct populations of vasopressinergic magnocellular neurons localized to the supraoptic nucleus, paraventricular nucleus and the nucleus circularis that did not project to the neurohypophysis. In the present study, these same hypothalamic nuclei were lesioned by microinjection of kainic acid to determine which, if any, of these populations of vasopressin neurons are involved in the control of flank marking. Unilateral lesions in the areas of the nucleus circularis and supraoptic nucleus at the rostro‐caudal plane of the anterior hypothalamus abolished odor‐induced flank marking behavior. Lesions in the paraventricular nucleus at the level of the anterior hypothalamus did not consistently inhibit flank marking, while lesions of magnocellular neurons rostral or caudal to the anterior hypothalamus were ineffective. The microinjection of vasopressin into the anterior hypothalamus following lesion of the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei stimulated flank marking, evidence that treatment with kainic acid did not damage the efferent component of this behavior. However, animals with lesions in the nucleus circularis did not respond to the microinjection of vasopressin; hence, it is uncertain whether lesions in this area disrupt vasopressinergic innervation to the anterior hypothalamus or simply destroy the motor neurons controlling flank marking. In summary, the data clearly demonstrate that vasopressin neurons localized primarily to the medial aspect of the supraoptic nucleus are necessary for sensory integration of odor‐induced flank marking, and as such, may be one possible source of neurotransmitter controlling this behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990


  • anterior hypothalamus
  • arginine vasopressin
  • flank marking
  • immunocytochemistry
  • kainic acid


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