Localization of neurons expressing substance P and neurokinin B gene transcripts in the human hypothalamus and basal forebrain

Monica K. Chawla, Graciela M. Gutierrez, W. Scott Young, Nathaniel T. Mcmullen, Naomi E. Rance

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76 Scopus citations


In situ hybridization histochemistry was used to map the distribution of neurons expressing the substance P (SP) or neurokinin B (NKB) genes in the human hypothalamus and basal forebrain. Hypothalami from five adult males were frozen in isopentane at -30°C and serially sectioned at 20 μm thickness. Every 20th section was hybridized with [35S]labeled, 48-base synthetic cDNA probes that were complementary to either SP or NKB mRNAs. Slides were dipped into nuclear emulsion for visualization of mRNAs at the single-cell level. The location of labeled neurons (greater than X 5 background) was mapped by using an image-combining computer microscope system. A distinct and complementary distribution pattern of SP and NKB neurons was observed in the human hypothalamus and basal forebrain. NKB was the predominant tachykinin in the rostral hypothalamus, whereas SP mRNA predominated in the posterior hypothalamus. Numerous NKB neurons were identified in the magnocellular basal forebrain, the bed nucleus of stria terminalis, and the anterior hypothalamic area. Scattered NKB neurons were present in the infundibular and paraventricular nuclei, paraolfactory gyrus, posterior hypothalamic area, lateral division of the medial mammillary nucleus, and amygdala. Numerous neurons expressing SP mRNAs were identified in the premammillary, supramammillary, and medial mammillary nuclei; the posterior hypothalamic area; and the corpus striatum. Scattered SP neurons were also observed in the preoptic area; the infundibular, intermediate, dorsomedial, and ventromedial nuclei; the infundibular stalk; the amygdala; the bed nucleus of stria terminalis; and the paraolfactory gyrus. These studies provide the first description of the location of neurons that express tachykinin gene transcripts in the human hypothalamus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-442
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 4 1997


  • Diagonal band of Broca
  • In situ hybridization
  • Mammillary body
  • Nucleus basalis of Meynert
  • Putamen
  • Tachykinin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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