Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Inner capillary diameter of hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of female rat increases during lactation

Albertina Cortés-Sol1*, Miguel Lara-Garcia1, Mayvi Alvarado1, Robyn Hudson2, Pere Berbel3 and Pablo Pacheco12

Author affiliations

1 Instituto de Neuroetología, Universidad Veracruzana, Dr. Luis Castelazo s/n Col. Industrial Las Animas, Xalapa, Veracruz, 91190, México

2 Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, México D.F, 04510, México

3 Departamento de Histología y Anatomía, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Crta. Nacional, Km-332 s/n, Sant Joan, Alicante, 03550, España

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-7

Published: 10 January 2013



The role of the endothelial cell (EC) in blood flow regulation within the central nervous system has been little studied. Here, we explored EC participation in morphological changes of the anterior hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) microvasculature of female rats at two reproductive stages with different metabolic demand (virginity and lactation). We measured the inner capillary diameter (ICD) of 800 capillaries from either the magnocellular or parvocellular regions. The space occupied by neural (somas, dendrites and axons) and glial, but excluding vascular elements of the neurovascular compartment was also measured in 100-μm2 sample fields of both PVN subdivisions.


The PVN of both groups of animals showed ICDs that ranged from 3 to 10 microns. The virgin group presented mostly capillaries with small ICD, whereas the lactating females exhibited a significant increment in the percentage of capillaries with larger ICD. The space occupied by the neural and glial elements of the neurovascular compartment did not show changes with lactation.


Our findings suggest that during lactation the microvasculature of the PVN of female rats undergoes dynamic, transitory changes in blood flow as represented by an increment in the ICD through a self-cytoplasmic volume modification reflected by EC changes. A model of this process is proposed.

Inner capillary diameter; Endothelial cell; Neurovascular compartment; Hypothalamus; Lactation