Serotonin transporter messenger RNA in the developing rat brain: Early expression in serotonergic neurons and transient expression in non- serotonergic neurons

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Serotonin has been shown to affect the development of the mammalian nervous system. The serotonin transporter is a major factor in regulating extracellular serotonin levels. Using in situ hybridization histochemistry the rat serotonin transporter messenger RNA was localized during embryogenesis, the first four weeks postnatally and adulthood. Three general classes of serotonin transporter messenger RNA expression patterns were observed: (i) early detection with continued expression through adult age, (ii) transient expression colocalized with vesicular monoamine transporter 2 messenger RNA but with no detectable tryptophan hydroxylase immunoreactivity, and (iii) transient expression in the apparent absence of both vesicular monoamine transporter 2 messenger RNA and tryptophan hydroxylase immunoreactivity. For example, hybridization for serotonin transporter messenger RNA was strong in serotonin cell body-containing areas beginning early in gestation, and remained intense through adulthood. Immunoreactivity for tryptophan hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in serotonin synthesis, was completely overlapping with the presence of serotonin transporter messenger RNA in raphe nuclei postnatally. Sensory relay systems including the ventrobasal nucleus (somatosensory), lateral and medial geniculate nuclei (visual and auditory, respectively) as well as trigeminal, cochlear and solitary nuclei were representative of the second class of observations. In general, the limbic system expressed serotonin transporter messenger RNA in the third pattern with various limbic structures differing in the timing of expression. Septum, olfactory areas and the developing hippocampus contained serotonin transporter messenger RNA early in the developing brain. Other regions such as cingulate and frontopolar cortex exhibited hybridization peri- and postnatally, respectively. Several hypothalamic nuclei and pituitary transiently expressed serotonin transporter messenger RNA either postnatally or perinatally, respectively. If the observed patterns correlate with functional protein expression, distinct classes of serotonin transporter messenger RNA expression may reflect different functional roles for the serotonin transporter and serotonin, itself. Since the serotonin transporter is a target for a number of addictive substances including cocaine and amphetamine derivatives as well as antidepressants, transient expression of the serotonin transporter might suggest a window of vulnerability of associated cells to fetal drug exposure. Re-uptake, storage and re-release from non-serotonergic neurons might serve as a feedback mechanism from target neurons to serotonergic neurons. Alternatively, the transient expression of serotonin transporter messenger RNA may reflect critical periods important for tight regulation of extracellular serotonin in several brain regions, and may indicate previously unappreciated roles for serotonin as a developmental cue.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • US National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Reproduktionsmedicin och gynekologi
  • Cancer och onkologi


Sidor (från-till)1185-1201
Antal sidor17
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 1998 jan 12
Peer review utfördJa