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Synapse. 1994 May;17(1):1-15.

Quantitative autoradiography of the serotonin transporter to assess the distribution of serotonergic projections from the dorsal raphe nucleus.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.


The binding of 3H-CN-IMI to 5-HT uptake sites, as measured by quantitative autoradiography, was used as a marker of serotonergic neurons. Within the dorsal raphe nucleus the binding of 3H-CN-IMI was compared in adjacent coronal sections of rat brain to the binding of 3H-DPAT to 5-HT1A receptors, which have a known somatodendritic localization. The heterogeneous pattern of binding of these two radioligands within the dorsal raphe nucleus was similar and corresponded to the distribution of serotonergic cell bodies as visualized by 5-HT immunohistochemistry. Intracerebroventricular administration of 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT), which caused a dramatic loss of 5-HT immunoreactivity and 3H-DPAT binding to 5-HT1A receptors, resulted in a marked reduction of 3H-CN-IMI binding in this nucleus. Treatment of rats with a dose of para-chloroamphetamine (PCA) which has been reported to selectively lesion serotonergic processes arising from the dorsal raphe nucleus, while sparing serotonergic cell bodies and projections from the median raphe nucleus, did not alter the binding of 3H-DPAT or 3H-CN-IMI in the dorsal raphe nucleus; serotonergic cell bodies appeared morphologically unaffected. The lack of effect of PCA treatment on the binding of 3H-DPAT and 3H-CN-IMI is consistent with a somatodendritic localization of the 5-HT transporter in the dorsal raphe nucleus. PCA treatment appeared to produce a moderate loss of serotonergic innervation in serotonergic terminal field areas as visualized by serotonin immunohistochemistry. The reductions in 3H-CN-IMI binding observed in terminal field areas (24 to 69%) following treatment of rats with PCA did not reflect a marked differential innervation of forebrain areas by the dorsal and medial raphe nuclei as expected from previous biochemical studies, and were not entirely consistent with the findings of neuroanatomical studies using histochemical techniques. Site-specific injection of 5,7-DHT into the dorsal raphe nucleus produced an 80 +/- 11% reduction in the binding of 3H-CN-IMI in this nucleus, whereas the binding of 3H-CN-IMI in the median raphe nucleus was not reduced.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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