The distribution and regulation of mRNA for the IGF-I receptor (IGF-I-R) in the adult rat brain were studied by in-situ hybridization with a 35S-labelled cRNA probe. The pituitary gland showed a strong hybridization signal in the pars tuberalis (the surface of the median eminence), pars distalis and pars intermedia. Within the brain, a strong hybridization signal was found in the circumventricular organs, olfactory bulb, hippocampus, cerebellum and hypothalamus.
IGF-I-R mRNA was consistently found in cell bodies of the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial systern. Six days of intermittent salt-loading resulted in an increase in IGF-I-R gene expression in the supraoptic nucleus. The increase in IGF-I-R mRNA was accompanied by a high expression of c-Fos immunoreactivity in the same cells. The presence and regulation of IGF-I-R mRNA in the hypothalamus suggest that IGF-I may affect the local plasticity or modulation of activated magnocellular neurones by an autocrine or paracrine action through specific receptors in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system.