Immimohistochemical localization of corticotropin-releasing factor in selected brain areas of the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Gregory F. Ball, Patricia L. Fans, John C. Wingfield

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36 Scopus citations


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) was localized in the brains of two passerine species, the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia), by means of immunohistochemistry. The hypothalamic distribution of this peptide in these species includes a complex of immunoreactive perikarya observed in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), in both its medial and lateral divisions. Nerve fibers were also seen running from these areas to the anterior median eminence (AME) where a terminal field is apparent. A wide variety of extra-hypothalamic nuclei containing CRF-immunoreactive cells and fibers were identified. An apparent CRF terminal field can be visualized in the lateral septum. A dense fiber plexus is present in the nucleus accumbens (Ac) and more caudally in the nucleus of the stria terminalis (nST). In colchicinepretreated animals, it was revealed that these areas also contain CRF-stained perikarya. The pattern of CRF immunoreactivity in the Ac-nST complex is continuous, with no distinction apparent between the nuclei. The medial preoptic area (mPOA) and the adjacent diagonal band of Broca contain CRF-fibers, while cells are apparent in the mPOA. In the mesencephalon, cells were visualized in the midbrain central gray; a terminal field and scattered positively stained perikarya were found in areas more ventral to the central grey that are adjacent to the third cranial nerve. Scattered cells were also seen at the border of the nucleus intercollicularis-nucleus mesencephalicus lateralis, pars dorsalis complex. In contrast to mammalian studies, no immunoreactive nerve fibers or perikarya were observed in telencephalic areas homologous to the mammalian neocortex. These studies confirm the presence of a CRF path-way regulating pituitary function and suggest a broad role played by CRF as a neuromodulator or neurotransmitter in autonomic and possibly behavioral activities in these species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-161
Number of pages7
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)
  • European starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  • Hypothalamus
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neurosecretory system
  • Nucleus striae terminalis
  • Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia)


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