Orexins (hypocretins) are neuropeptides which have recently been identified exclusively within lateral hypothalamic and perifornical neurons, and these orexin (ox) containing neurons appear to have extensive projections to all levels of the neuraxis. In this study, we report the identification of two distinct clusters of neurons containing ox-B-like immunoreactivity within the amygdaloid complex of the rat. A cluster of small to medium size ovoid shaped neurons containing ox-B-like immunoreactivity was found predominantly within the lateral division of the central nucleus of the amygdala (ACe). A second distinct, but smaller group of ox-B labelled neurons with similar shapes and sizes to those in ACe was also identified in the anterior lateral subnucleus of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) immediately adjacent the internal capsule, and in an area just ventral to the lateral ventricle. Neurons containing ox-A-like immunoreactivity were not observed in either structure. However, both structures contained ox-A- and ox-B labelled varicose fibers. Unilateral electrolytic lesions of the lateral hypothalamic area that contained ox-A and ox-B neurons did not alter the labelling of either ACe or BST ox-B pericarya. As both the ACe and BST are known to be involved in integrating complex homeostatic mechanisms associated with behaviours, these data suggest that a specific subset of ox-B neurons within the amygdaloid complex may serve as a component of neuronal circuits coordinating these responses.
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