Our previous study demonstrated that the paraventricular organ (PVO) in the hypothalamus of the Japanese grass lizard (Takydromus tachydromoides) showed immunoreactivity against the light signal-transducing G-protein, transducin. This finding suggested that the PVO was a candidate for the deep-brain photoreceptor in this species. To understand functions of the PVO, we investigated distributions of transducin, serotonin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), and gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH) in the lizard's brain. We immunohistochemically confirmed co-localization of transducin and serotonin in PVO neurons that showed structural characteristics of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons. GnRH-immunoreactive (ir) cells were localized in the posterior commissure and lateral hypothalamic area. Some of the serotonin-ir fibers extending from the PVO to the lateral hypothalamic area contacted the GnRH-ir cell bodies. GnIH-ir cells were localized in the nucleus accumbens, paraventricular nucleus, and upper medulla, and GnIH-ir fibers from the paraventricular nucleus contacted the lateral processes of serotonin-ir neurons in the PVO. In addition, we found that serotonin-ir fibers from the PVO extended to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and the retrograde transport method confirmed the PVO projections to the SCN. These findings suggest that the PVO, by means of innervation mediated by serotonin, plays an important role in the regulation of pituitary function and the biological clock in the Japanese grass lizard.
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