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J Comp Neurol. 2008 Feb 10;506(5):775-90.

Developmental changes of serotonin 4(a) receptor expression in the rat pre-Bötzinger complex.

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Department of Neuro- and Sensory Physiology, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.


Serotonin receptors (5-HTRs) are known to be involved in the regulation of breathing behavior and to mediate neurotrophic actions that exert a significant function in network formation during development. We studied neuronal 5-HT(4(a))R-immunoreactivity (-IR) at developmental ages from E14 to P10. Within the pre-Bötzinger complex (pre-BötC), a part of the respiratory network important for rhythmogenesis, 5-HT(4(a))R-IR was most extensive in rats at an age of E18. The 5-HT(4(a))-IR was found predominantly in the neuropil, whereas somatic staining was sporadic at late embryonic (E18-E20) stages. At birth, we observed a dramatic change to a predominantly somatic staining, and neuropil staining was greatly reduced and disappeared at an age of P4. In all developmental stages, 5-HT(4(a)) and mu-opioid receptors were strongly coexpressed in neurons of the pre-BötC, whereas 5-HT(4(a))R expression was absent in neurons within the dorsal horn. Nestin, a marker for CNS progenitor cells, was used to obtain information about the degree of pre-BötC differentiation. Nestin-positive cells did not appear within the pre-BötC before age E20. At E16, nestin-expressing cells were absent in the nucleus ambiguus (NA) and its ventral periphery. The number of nestin-positive cells increased after birth within and outside the pre-BötC, the majority of cells being glial. Coexpression of nestin and 5-HT(4(a))R was localized predominantly within the NA and appeared only sporadically within the pre-BötC. We conclude that 5-HT(4(a))Rs are important not only for neuromodulation of cellular excitability but also for respiratory network formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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