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The median eminence of the hypothalamus is an important conduit by which neurosecretory hormones from hypothalamic nuclei are delivered to the pars nervosa (neural lobe) of the pituitary en route to the bloodstream. Dilutional hyponatremia was produced in adult rats to determine the effect on the morphology of the median eminence of the hypothalamus. Hyponatremia was caused by reducing electrolyte and organic osmolyte reserves to block the excretion of water through delivery of the nephrotoxin mercuric chloride (HgCl2). Histological examination of the brain 1 day after a hyponatremic insult revealed vacuolation within the median eminence of the hypothalamus. No other lesions were found in other parts of the brain after hyponatremia. The hyponatremic lesion consisted of a band of closely packed vacuoles that crossed the floor of the third ventricle. Vacuoles associated with hyponatremia were predominantly in the subependymal, fiber, reticular, and palisade layers of the median eminence. Vacuolation was not observed in the tanycyte layer of the median eminence. This study indicates that the median eminence is a potentially vulnerable site in human hyponatremic conditions that should be evaluated further in relevant animal models.


Seymour Levine, Arthur Saltzman, Stephen D Ginsberg. Vacuolar pathology in the median eminence of the hypothalamus after hyponatremia. Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology. 2011 Feb;70(2):151-6

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PMID: 21343884

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