Paraventricular nucleus

Last revised by Anthony Liu on 4 Aug 2022

The paraventricular nucleus is a group of neurosecretory cells in the hypothalamus that produce the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone).

Gross anatomy

The paraventricular nucleus is found in the medial area of the anterior hypothalamus immediately medial to the column of the fornix. Axons pass through the paraventriculohypophyseal tract to the supraoptic nucleus, where they form the supraopticohypophyseal tract by joining neurons of the supraoptic nucleus.

Terminal synapse

Both the magnocellular paraventricular and supraoptic axons terminate in the posterior pituitary, where the terminal neurosecretory synapses release oxytocin and vasopressin into the posterior pituitary capillary plexus. These neuroendocrine hormones are stored in specialized axonal swellings called Herring bodies.

In addition, the magnocellular and parvocellular axons of the paraventricular nucleus also project to intrahypothalamic structures including the median eminence and the arcuate nucleus, as well as more distal extrahypothalamic autonomic regions including the dorsal vagal complex.

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