Body fluid homeostasis requires a complex suite of physiological and behavioral processes. Understanding of the role of the central nervous system (CNS) in integrating these processes has been advanced by research employing immunohistochemical techniques to assess responses to a variety of body fluid challenges. Such techniques have revealed sex/estrogen differences in CNS activation in response to hypotension and hypernatremia. In contrast, it has been difficult to conclusively identify specific CNS areas and neurotransmitter systems that are activated by hyponatremia using these techniques. In part, this difficulty is due to the temporal disconnect between the physiological effects of treatments commonly used to deplete body sodium and the behavioral response to such depletion. In some methods, sodium ingestion is delayed in association with increased oxytocin (OT), suggesting an inhibitory role for OT in sodium intake. Urinary sodium loss increases within an hour after treatment with furosemide, a natriuretic-diuretic, but sodium intake is delayed for 18–24 h. Accordingly, we hypothesized that acute furosemide-induced sodium loss activates centrally-projecting OT neurons which provide an initial inhibition of sodium intake, and tested this hypothesis in ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley rats with or without estrogen using immunohistochemical methods. Neuronal activation in the hypothalamic paraventricular nuclei (PVN) after administration of furosemide corresponded to the timing of the physiological effects. The activation was not different in estrogen-treated rats, nor did estrogen alter the initial suppression of sodium intake. However, virtually no fos immunoreactive (fos-IR) neurons in the parvocellular PVN were also immunolabeled for OT. Thus, acute sodium loss after furosemide produces neural activation and an early inhibition of sodium intake that does not appear to involve activation of centrally-projecting OT neurons and is not influenced by estrogen.
- Paraventricular nucleus