Relaxin and the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus
The hormone relaxin regulates the release of the magnocellular hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, from the central nervous system. Studies have yet to determine whether relaxin regulates magnocellular hormone release through the circumventricular organs alone, or whether relaxin can act on the brain regions containing the magnocellular neurons as well. The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus was isolated from other brain regions and maintained in vitro, in order evaluate the effects of the relaxin and relaxin-3 on the somatodendritic release of oxytocin and vasopressin. At 50 nM concentrations, relaxin induced oxytocin release, while relaxin-3 inhibited oxytocin release. Neither relaxin nor relaxin-3 had an effect on the vasopressin release, however the RXFP3 specific agonist, R3/I5, induced vasopressin release. The effect of the relaxin peptides on the electrical activity of neurons in the paraventricular nucleus was also evaluated. Relaxin depolarized magnocellular neurons while relaxin-3 hyperpolarized the neurons. Relaxin and relaxin-3 appear to have differential effects on the magnocellular neurons of the paraventricular nucleus.