An assessment of the validity of densitometric measures of striatal tyrosine hydroxylase-positive fibers: relationship to apomorphine-induced rotations in 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned rats

J Neurosci Methods. 1990 Oct;35(1):63-73. doi: 10.1016/0165-0270(90)90095-w.


The power of immunohistochemical staining as a tool for the study of the neurochemical anatomy of the brain would be greatly enhanced if quantitative measures of staining were to be developed. We have here assessed the reliability and validity of two population measures of extent of fiber innervation: percent area occupied by staining, and average optical density (AOD) of staining. We have evaluated these measures for tyrosine hydroxylase-positive staining of the striatum in relation to apomorphine-induced rotational behavior in 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned rats. We have found that inter-operator reliability for the area measure is high (r = 0.98). Apomorphine-induced rotations were observed when the area measured was reduced to 2% or less of the control side, and when the density measure was reduced to 15% or less. These results are similar to those obtained previously for biochemical assay of TH activity, which showed rotations at reductions to 10% or less. We conclude that these density measures provide valid relative indices of extent of fiber innervation on the same section. The AOD measure appears to be more sensitive at lower levels of innervation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology*
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / enzymology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Densitometry / methods
  • Hydroxydopamines / toxicity*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / drug effects
  • Nerve Fibers / enzymology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity
  • Oxidopamine
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reference Values
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism*


  • Hydroxydopamines
  • Neurotoxins
  • Oxidopamine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Apomorphine