Models of neuroendocrine regulation: Use of monosodium glutamate as an investigational tool

Charles B. Nemeroff, Morris A. Lipton, John S. Kizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The administration of monosodium-L-glutamate (MSG) during the neonatal period is known to result in central nervous system lesions in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus and the retina. Rodents so treated exhibit behavioral deficits and endocrinopathies including obesity, hypogonadism, hypothyroidism, pituitary atrophy, tail automutilation and diminished locomotor activity. Assessment of endocrine status revealed normal serum levels of glucagon, thyroid-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and diminished levels of thyroid hormones and growth hormone in MSG-treated rats. Prolactin levels were elevated in the glutamate-treated male rats. Within the brain hypothalamic levels of thyrotropin-releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, and somatostatin were unchanged. Measurement of neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter-related enzymes in individual hypothalamic nuclei derived from MSG-treated rats revealed normal levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and glutamic acid decarboxylase, but reduced levels of choline acetyltransferase and dopamine in the arcuate nucleus and median eminence. Histochemical methods for visualization of dopamine and acetylcholinesterase in the mediobasal hypothalamus confirmed these findings. The MSG-treated animals exhibited a normal diurnal rhythm of pineal serotonin N-acetyltransferase activity. These data indicate that the MSG-induced endocrine deficiency syndrome results at least partly from destruction of cholinergic and dopaminergic tuberoinfundibular systems in the hypothalamus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1978
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetylcholine
  • Anterior pituitary
  • Arcuate nucleus
  • Dopamine
  • Median eminence
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Serotonin
  • Somatostatin
  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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