The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH) plays a critical role in the regulation of autonomic, neuroendocrine, and behavioral activities. This understanding has come from extensive characterization of the PVH in rats, and for this mammalian species we now have a robust model of basic PVH neuroanatomy and function. However, in mice, whose use as a model research animal has burgeoned with the increasing sophistication of tools for genetic manipulation, a comparable level of PVH characterization has not been achieved. To address this, we employed a variety of fluorescent tract tracing and immunostaining techniques in several different combinations to determine the neuronal connections and cyto- and chemoarchitecture of the PVH in the commonly used C57BL/6J male mouse. Our findings reveal a distinct organization in the mouse PVH that is substantially different from the PVH of male rats. The differences are particularly evident with respect to the spatial relations of two principal neuroendocrine divisions (magnocellular and parvicellular) and three descending preautonomic populations in the PVH. We discuss these data in relation to what is known about PVH function and provide the work as a resource for further studies of the neuronal architecture and function of the mouse PVH.
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