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J Chem Neuroanat. 2009 Oct;38(2):130-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2009.06.010. Epub 2009 Jul 7.

Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase-immunoreactive structures in human midbrain, pons, and medulla.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie Intégrative, Cellulaire et Moléculaire, UMR5123 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Bat Raphaël Dubois, Campus La Doua, 43 Bd du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.


The objective of the present study was to determine with precision the localization of neurons and fibers immunoreactive (ir) for aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC), the second-step enzyme responsible for conversion of L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) to dopamine (DA) and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine: 5-HT) in the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata of the adult human brain. Intense AADC immunoreactivity was observed in a large number of presumptive 5-HT neuronal cell bodies distributed in all of the raphe nuclei, as well as in regions outside the raphe nuclei such as the ventral portions of the pons and medulla. Moderate to strong immunoreaction was observable in presumptive DA cells in the mesencephalic reticular formation, substantia nigra, and ventral tegmental area of Tsai, as well as in presumptive noradrenergic (NA) cells, which were aggregated in the locus coeruleus and dispersed in the subcoeruleus nuclei. In the medulla oblongata, immunoreaction of moderate intensity was distributed in the mid and ventrolateral portions of the intermediate reticular nucleus, which constitutes the oblique plate of A1/C1 presumptive adrenergic and/or NA neurons. The dorsal vagal AADC-ir neurons were fewer in number and stained more weakly than cells immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). AADC immunoreactivity was not identified in an aggregate of TH-ir neurons lying in the gelatinous subnucleus of the solitary nucleus, a restricted region just rostroventral to the area postrema. Nonaminergic AADC-positive neurons (D neurons), which are abundant in the rat and cat midbrain, pons, and medulla, were hardly detectable in homologous regions in the human brain, although they were clearly distinguishable in the forebrain.

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