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Neuroscience. 2002;111(3):443-532.

Expression of the neuropeptide Y Y1 receptor in the CNS of rat and of wild-type and Y1 receptor knock-out mice. Focus on immunohistochemical localization.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


The distribution of neuropeptide Y (NPY) Y1 receptor-like immunoreactivity (Y1R-LI) has been studied in detail in the CNS of rat using a rabbit polyclonal antibody against the C-terminal 13 amino acids of the rat receptor protein. The indirect immunofluorescence technique with tyramide signal amplification has been employed. For specificity and comparative reasons Y1 knock-out mice and wild-type controls were analyzed. The distribution of Y1R mRNA was also studied using in situ hybridization. A limited comparison between Y1R-LI and NPY-LI was carried out.A widespread and abundant distribution of Y1R-LI, predominantly in processes but also in cell bodies, was observed. In fact, Y1R-LI was found in most regions of the CNS with a similar distribution pattern between rat and wild-type mouse. This staining was specific in the sense that it was absent in adjacent sections following preadsorption of the antibody with 10(-5) M of the antigenic peptide, and that it could not be observed in sections of the Y1 KO mouse. In contrast, the staining obtained with an N-terminally directed Y1R antiserum did not disappear, strongly suggesting unspecificity. In brief, very high levels of Y1R-LI were seen in the islands of Calleja, the anterior olfactory nucleus, the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, parts of the habenula, the interpeduncular nucleus, the mammillary body, the spinal nucleus of the trigeminal, caudal part, the paratrigeminal nucleus, and superficial layers of the dorsal horn. High levels were found in most cortical areas, many thalamic nuclei, some subnuclei of the amygdaloid complex, the hypothalamus and the nucleus of the stria terminalis, the nucleus of the solitary tract, the parabrachial nucleus, and the inferior olive. Moderate levels of Y1R-LI were detected in the cornu Ammonis and the subicular complex, many septal, some thalamic and many brainstem regions. Y1R staining of processes, often fiber and/or dot-like, and occasional cell bodies was also seen in tracts, such as the lateral lemniscus, the rubrospinal tract and the spinal tract of the trigeminal. There was in general a good overlap between Y1R-LI and NPY-LI, but some exceptions were found. Thus, some areas had NPY innervation but apparently lacked Y1Rs, whereas in other regions Y1R-LI, but no or only few NPY-positive nerve endings could be detected. Our results demonstrate that NPY signalling through the Y1R is common in the rat (and mouse) CNS. Mostly the Y1R is postsynaptic but there are also presynaptic Y1Rs. Mostly there is a good match between NPY-releasing nerve endings and Y1Rs, but 'volume transmission' may be 'needed' in some regions. Finally, the importance of using proper control experiments for immunohistochemical studies on seven-transmembrane receptors is stressed.

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