The distribution of neuropeptide Y-like immunoreactivity (NPY-LI) was investigated by immunohistochemistry and radioimmunoassay (RIA) in the brain of the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) held under either long or short photoperiods. In the diencephalic and telencephalic structures studied, distinct patterns of NPY-LI were basically consistent in male and female animals of both groups. NPY levels detected by RIA from tissue samples taken at six time points throughout the 24-hour cycle were in the range of 15-60 pmol/ mg protein in the diencephalon or below 5 pmol/mg protein in cerebral cortex. In the diencephalon, immunoreactive structures were seen in the preoptic, peri- and paraventricular, supraoptic, anterior, lateral, dorso- and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei and in the median eminence. The suprachiasmatic nuclei exhibited a dense innervation by NPY-LI terminals mainly in its ventrolateral subdivision. NPY levels in the suprachiasmatic nucleus were nocturnal-ly augmented under long-day, but not under short-day conditions. The quantification of NPY in the paraventricular nucleus revealed a decrease at night in long-day animals and a small nocturnal augmentation in short-day hamsters. In the pineal gland and habenular nuclei, varicose fibers were observed which appeared mainly perivascular in location (pineal) or formed a dense plexus (habenular nuclei). Pineal NPY contents fell during the night in long-day animals and were relatively constant in short-day hamsters. NPY-LI structures were also observed in the metathalamic intergeniculate leaflet and in a variety of telencephalic structures including the cerebral cortex, caudate nucleus puta-men, lateral septal nucleus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and amygdala.

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