Physiological regulation of magnocellular neurosecretory cell activity: Integration of intrinsic, local and afferent mechanisms

C. H. Brown, J. S. Bains, M. Ludwig, J. E. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

74 Scopus citations


The hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei contain magnocellular neurosecretory cells (MNCs) that project to the posterior pituitary gland where they secrete either oxytocin or vasopressin (the antidiuretic hormone) into the circulation. Oxytocin is important for delivery at birth and is essential for milk ejection during suckling. Vasopressin primarily promotes water reabsorption in the kidney to maintain body fluid balance, but also increases vasoconstriction. The profile of oxytocin and vasopressin secretion is principally determined by the pattern of action potentials initiated at the cell bodies. Although it has long been known that the activity of MNCs depends upon afferent inputs that relay information on reproductive, osmotic and cardiovascular status, it has recently become clear that activity depends critically on local regulation by glial cells, as well as intrinsic regulation by the MNCs themselves. Here, we provide an overview of recent advances in our understanding of how intrinsic and local extrinsic mechanisms integrate with afferent inputs to generate appropriate physiological regulation of oxytocin and vasopressin MNC activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-710
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2013



  • Osmoregulation
  • Oxytocin
  • Paraventricular nucleus
  • Reproduction
  • Supraoptic nucleus
  • Vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this