Previous work has suggested that the peptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) acts to inhibit visually guided feeding in anurans, but little is known about potential targets for CRF within the subcortical visuomotor circuitry. Here we investigated the relationship between CRF neuronal organization and visual pathways in toads. CRF-immunoreactive (ir) neurons and fibers were widely distributed throughout the ventral subpallial telencephalon and hypothalamus, although few fibers were found in telencephalic areas, such as the striatum, that are known to project to the tectum in anurans. Large populations of CRF-ir cells were observed in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and preoptic area as well as in the ventral infundibular hypothalamus. CRF-ir neurons and fibers also were observed in several midbrain and brain stem areas. Colchicine treatment significantly enhanced CRF-ir neurons and fibers throughout the brain, and revealed CRF-ir cell groups in several brain areas (including the dorsal hypothalamus) that were not observed in untreated animals. Intrinsic CRF-immunoreactive neurons were routinely observed in cell layer 8 and sometimes in layer 6 of the optic tectum in both untreated and colchicine-treated animals. CRF was detected in toad optic tectum by radioimmunoassay, although tectal CRF content was less than that of the hypothalamus and forebrain. Unilateral eye ablation did not affect CRF content of the contralateral optic tectum. We conclude that CRF-producing neurons are widely distributed in several areas of the toad brain known to be involved in regulating the behavioral, autonomic and endocrine response to stressors, including the optic tectum and several brain areas known to project to the optic tectum. Furthermore, retinal afferents do not contribute significantly to tectal CRF content.
- Corticotropin-releasing factor
- Visual system