Monoaminergic systems in the brainstem and spinal cord of the turtle Pseudemys scripta elegans as revealed by antibodies against serotonin and tyrosine hydroxylase

J Comp Neurol. 1992 Nov 22;325(4):527-47. doi: 10.1002/cne.903250406.


With the aim of gaining more insight into the monoaminergic regulation of spinal motor systems in the turtle, we have studied the distribution of 5-HT (5-HTir) and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity (THir) in the brainstem and spinal cord of Pseudemys scripta elegans. 5-HTir cell bodies were located in the midline in nucleus raphe inferior, nucleus raphe superior, and laterally in nuclei reticularis superior and inferior and nucleus reticularis isthmi. THir cell bodies were located in the commissural nucleus, nucleus tractus solitarii, the locus coeruleus-subcoeruleus complex, nuclei reticularis superior and inferior, the pretectal area, and substantia nigra. 5-HTir and THir tracts were found in lateral and ventral bundles superficially in the brainstem. 5-HTir fibers in the spinal cord were located in a large dorsolateral and a smaller ventrolateral tract. In the gray matter, a high concentration of 5-HTir fibers were observed in areas I-IV and in the lateral motor column of cervical and lumbar enlargements. Areas V-VIII and area X were less intensively innervated, with the lowest fibre concentration in areas VII-VIII and area X. Throughout the spinal cord, THir nerve fibres were located in the same areas but with a lower density. Small bipolar 5-HTir and THir cell bodies were found ventromedially to the central canal especially in cervical and lumbosacral segments. Large THir cells were found in area IX in the caudal sacral and coccygeal spinal cord. THir cerebrospinal fluid-contacting cells were also found in the most caudal part of the brainstem and the upper cervical spinal cord. The well developed spinal 5-HT system and the less developed THir system provides an anatomical explanation for the monoaminergic modulation of turtle motoneuron membrane properties, which has been observed in electrophysiological experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology
  • Brain Stem / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Serotonin / immunology
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Turtles / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / immunology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism*


  • Antibodies
  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Serotonin
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase