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Exp Brain Res. 1994;99(1):34-42.

Mapping of the colocalization of calretinin and tyrosine hydroxylase in the rat substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area.

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Laboratory of Clinical Sciences, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The distribution of calretinin (CR), a calcium binding protein, was compared with that of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of dopamine, throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the rat substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area (VTA). After mapping the cells using double-labelling immunofluorescence, it was possible to distinguish three distinct cell types: cells immunoreactive for CR only, cells immunoreactive for TH only, and cells in which the two proteins were colocalized (CR + TH). Colocalized cells in rat brain sections comprised approximately 40-55% of the fluorescent labelled cells in the SN compacta, 30-40% in the VTA, and 55-80% in the SN lateralis. Colocalized cells in the SN reticulata were infrequent except in the more caudal sections where a majority of the TH-immunoreactive cells also contained CR. The percentage of CR cells that contained TH was approximately 80% in the SN compacta and averaged 65% in the VTA. Overall, the percentage of TH-immunoreactive cells which also contained CR was approximately 50% in the SN compacta and 45% in the VTA. These data reveal a significant degree of colocalization of CR in dopamine-producing cells of the SN and VTA and suggest the need for studies concerning the fate of these individual cell types following experimental manipulations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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