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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Distribution, regulation and role of hypothalamic galanin systems: renewed interest in a pleiotropic peptide family.

1. Galanin peptide and galanin receptor-binding sites are known to be widely distributed within the central nervous system, particularly in the hypothalamus in the preoptic area, the paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic (SON) nuclei and the arcuate nucleus/median eminence. 2. The present brief review focuses on some recent studies of the regional and cellular localization of mRNA encoding galanin and two galanin receptor subtypes (GalR1 and GalR2) in the hypothalamus, regulation of galanin and/or galanin receptor expression in various nuclei by physiological stimuli, electrophysiological effects of galanin on hypothalamic neurons and the isolation and cloning of galanin-like peptide (GALP), a putative endogenous ligand for GalR2. 3. In situ hybridization studies in rat brain have demonstrated an abundance of GalR1 mRNA in SON, magnocellular (m) and parvocellular (p) PVN and dorsomedial, ventromedial and arcuate nuclei. In contrast, GalR2 mRNA is enriched in pPVN, but not mPVN, and is not detected in SON. In addition, GalR2 mRNA is present in the dorsomedial nucleus and is enriched in the arcuate nucleus compared with GalR1 transcripts, with numerous labelled cells in all subdivisions. 4. Neurons of the SON and PVN contain vasopressin and/or oxytocin, along with several other peptides, and the production and release of these hormones and peptides are modulated by various physiological stimuli. In relation to galanin systems, GalR1 and galanin expression is increased in magnocellular neurons by salt loading and is downregulated by lactation, consistent with an increased inhibition by galanin of vasopressin release following osmotic stimulation and a decreased inhibition of oxytocin release during lactation. 5. Powerful inhibitory effects of galanin on the electrical (and secretory) activity of magnocellular neurons and complex presynaptic actions of galanin on the synaptic release of glutamate in the arcuate nucleus in vitro suggest an active role for multiple galanin receptor subtypes in the regulation of these hypothalamic systems in vivo. 6. The recent isolation of a peptide from porcine hypothalamus (GALP-1-60) that is structurally related to galanin and appears to be selective for GalR2 over GalR1 and the subsequent cloning of GALP cDNA from pig, rat and humans should allow studies to help reveal the physiological role played by galanin receptor subtypes (especially GalR2) and their multiple ligands in the hypothalamus and other brain areas.[1]


  1. Distribution, regulation and role of hypothalamic galanin systems: renewed interest in a pleiotropic peptide family. Gundlach, A.L., Burazin, T.C., Larm, J.A. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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