To clarify the relationship between neuronal cell degeneration and MHC class-I complex expression, we have immunohistochemically examined the distribution of β2-microglobulin in the hypophysectomized rat hypothalamus. In the sham-operated control rats, positive stainings were distributed only in blood vessels in the hypothalamic areas where magnocellular neurons were localized. Three days after hypophysectomy, positive stainings appeared in a large number of magnocellular neurons in the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei. Most of such β2-microglobulin-positive cells were simultaneously stained with antivasopressin serum. The pattern of distribution of positive cells and the intensity of the stainings remained unchanged at least until the 14th day. These morphological findings suggest that the process of degeneration of hypothalamic magnocellular neurons after hypophysectomy is a useful model to investigate the role of MHC class I complex in the brain.

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