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

The neuroendocrinology of thirst and salt appetite: visceral sensory signals and mechanisms of central integration.

This review examines recent advances in the study of the behavioral responses to deficits of body water and body sodium that in humans are accompanied by the sensations of thirst and salt appetite. Thirst and salt appetite are satisfied by ingesting water and salty substances. These behavioral responses to losses of body fluids, together with reflex endocrine and neural responses, are critical for reestablishing homeostasis. Like their endocrine and neural counterparts, these behaviors are under the control of both excitatory and inhibitory influences arising from changes in osmolality, endocrine factors such as angiotensin and aldosterone, and neural signals from low and high pressure baroreceptors. The excitatory and inhibitory influences reaching the brain require the integrative capacity of a neural network which includes the structures of the lamina terminalis, the amygdala, the perifornical area, and the paraventricular nucleus in the forebrain, and the lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPBN), the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), and the area postrema in the hindbrain. These regions are discussed in terms of their roles in receiving afferent sensory input and in processing information related to hydromineral balance. Osmoreceptors controlling thirst are located in systemic viscera and in central structures that lack the blood-brain barrier. Angiotensin and aldosterone act on and through structures of the lamina terminalis and the amygdala to stimulate thirst and sodium appetite under conditions of hypovolemia. The NTS and LPBN receive neural signals from baroreceptors and are responsible for inhibiting the ingestion of fluids under conditions of increased volume and pressure and for stimulating thirst under conditions of hypovolemia and hypotension. The interplay of multiple facilitory influences within the brain may take the form of interactions between descending angiotensinergic systems originating in the forebrain and ascending adrenergic systems emanating from the hindbrain. Oxytocin and serotonin are additional candidate neurochemicals with postulated inhibitory central actions and with essential roles in the overall integration of sensory input within the neural network devoted to maintaining hydromineral balance.[1]


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