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Nuclear organization of orexinergic neurons in the hypothalamus of a lar gibbon and a chimpanzee

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Employing orexin-A immunohistochemical staining we describe the nuclear parcellation of orexinergic neurons in the hypothalami of a lar gibbon and a chimpanzee. The clustering of orexinergic neurons within the hypothalamus and the terminal networks follow the patterns generally observed in other mammals, including laboratory rodents, strepsirrhine primates and humans. The orexinergic neurons were found within three distinct clusters in the ape hypothalamus, which include the main cluster, zona incerta cluster and optic tract cluster. In addition, the orexinergic neurons of the optic tract cluster appear to extend to a more rostral and medial location than observed in other species, being observed in the tuberal region in the anterior ventromedial aspect of the hypothalamus. While orexinergic terminal networks were observed throughout the brain, high density terminal networks were observed within the hypothalamus, medial and intralaminar nuclei of the dorsal thalamus, and within the serotonergic and noradrenergic regions of the midbrain and pons, which is typical for mammals. The expanded distribution of orexinergic neurons into the tuberal region of the ape hypothalamus, is a feature that needs to be investigated in other primate species, but appears to correlate with orexin gene expression in the same region of the human hypothalamus, but these neurons are not revealed with immunohistochemical staining in humans. Thus, it appears that apes have a broader distribution of orexinergic neurons compared to other primate species, but that the neurons within this extension of the optic tract cluster in humans, while expressing the orexin gene, do not produce the neuropeptide.

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