By means of monoclonal antibodies against the rat liver glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the human estrogen receptor (ER), in combination with an immunocytochemical analysis, it has been possible to map out GR and ER immunoreactive (IR) neurons in the rat central nervous system and GR IR glial cells in the white matter. The GR IR is located in the cytoplasm and especially in the nucleus while the ER IR is only demonstrated in the nuclei of the neurons. Upon adrenalectomy the GR IR appears to be present exclusively in the cytoplasm, while after castration the ER IR is still exclusively present in the nuclei. Upon corticosterone treatment of the adrenalectomized rat the GR IR is again predominantly found in the nuclei of the neurons. These results indicate that the occupied GR and the unoccupied and occupied ER are located in the nuclei and the unoccupied GR in the cytoplasm. Evidence has been presented that large numbers of monoamine and peptide nerve cell bodies contain GR IR. Furthermore, neuronal GR IR is found in neuronal populations all over the central nervous system, especially in the cerebral cortex, the thalamus and the hypothalamus, indicating a major role of GR in regulating the metabolic and synaptic functions of the brain. The ER IR is instead limited to certain neuronal populations, mainly those of the preoptic area, the bed nucleus of the striae terminalis and the arcuate nucleus, suggesting a specific role in control of LHRH secretion and reproductive behaviour.
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