The distribution of FMRFamide-like immunoreactive (ir) neurons and fibers was investigated in the central nervous system of developing zebrafish and juvenile sturgeon (sterlet). Adult zebrafish was also studied. In zebrafish embryos FMRFamide-ir elements first appeared 30 h post- fertilization (PF). Ir somata were located in the olfactory placode and in the ventral diencephalon. FMRFamide-ir fibers originating from diencephalic neurons were found in the ventral telencephalon and in ventral portions of the brainstem. At 48 h PF, the ir perikarya in the olfactory placode displayed increased immunoreactivity and stained fibers emerged from the somata. At 60 h PF, bilaterally, clusters of FMRFamide-ir neurons were found along the rostro-caudal axis of the brain, from the olfactory placode to rostral regions of the ventro-lateral telencephalon. At 60 h PF, numerous ir fibers appeared in the dorsal telencephalon, optic lobes, optic nerves, and retina. Except for ir fibers in the hypophysis at the age of 72 h PF, and a few ir cells in the nucleus olfacto-retinalis (NOR) at the age of 2 months PF, no major re-organization was noted in subsequent ontogenetic stages. The number of stained NOR neurons increased markedly in sexually mature zebrafish. In adult zebrafish, other ir neurons were located in the dorsal zones of the periventricular hypothalamus and in components of the nervus terminalis. We are inclined to believe that neurons expressing FMRFamide originate in the olfactory placode and in the ventricular ependyma in the hypothalamus. On the same grounds, a dual origin of FMRFamide-ir neurons is inferred in the sturgeon, an ancestral bony fish: prior to the observation of ir cells in the nasal area and in the telencephalon stained neurons were noted in circumventricular hypothalamic regions. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.
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