Highly regionalized distribution of stromal cell-derived factor-1/CXCL12 in adult rat brain: constitutive expression in cholinergic, dopaminergic and vasopressinergic neurons

Eur J Neurosci. 2003 Sep;18(6):1593-606. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2003.02893.x.


The stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1)/CXCL12 and its receptor CXCR4 are key modulators of immune functions. In the nervous system, SDF-1/CXCL12 is crucial for neuronal guidance in developing brain, intercellular communication and the neuropathogenesis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. However, cerebral functions of SDF-1/CXCL12 in adult brain are poorly understood. The understanding of its role in the adult brain needs a detailed neuroanatomical mapping of SDF-1/CXCL12. By dual immunohistochemistry we demonstrate that this chemokine is constitutively expressed not only in astrocytes and microglia but also in neurons, in discrete neuroanatomical regions. Indeed, neuronal expression of SDF-1/CXCL12 is mainly found in cerebral cortex, substantia innominata, globus pallidus, hippocampus, paraventricular and supraoptic hypothalamic nuclei, lateral hypothalamus, substantia nigra and oculomotor nuclei. Moreover, we provide the first evidence that SDF-1/CXCL12 is constitutively expressed in cholinergic neurons in the medial septum and substantia innominata and in dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra pars compacta and the ventral tegmental area. Interestingly we also show, for the first time, a selective co-localization of SDF-1/CXCL12 with vasopressin-expressing neurons in the supraoptic and paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei. In addition, in the lateral hypothalamic area, SDF-1/CXCL12 was found to be located on melanin concentrating hormone-expressing neurons. Altogether, these original data suggest that SDF-1/CXCL12 could be a modulatory neuropeptide regulating both central cholinergic and dopaminergic systems. In addition, a key role for SDF-1/CXCL12 in neuroendocrine regulation of vasopressin-expressing neurons represents an exciting new field of research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm*
  • Antigens, Surface*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Avian Proteins*
  • Basigin
  • Blood Proteins*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Count
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC / genetics
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism*
  • ELAV Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Goats
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Pituitary Hormones / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Transfection
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism*
  • Vasopressins / metabolism*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Avian Proteins
  • Blood Proteins
  • Bsg protein, Gallus gallus
  • Bsg protein, mouse
  • Bsg protein, rat
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Cxcl12 protein, mouse
  • ELAV Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Melanins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Vasopressins
  • Basigin
  • Oxytocin
  • melanin-concentrating hormone
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase