Fos-activation of FoxP2 and Lmx1b neurons in the parabrachial nucleus evoked by hypotension and hypertension in conscious rats

Neuroscience. 2012 Aug 30;218:110-25. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.05.049. Epub 2012 May 26.


The parabrachial nucleus (PB) is a brainstem cell group that receives a strong input from the nucleus tractus solitarius regarding the physiological status of the internal organs and sends efferent projections throughout the forebrain. Since the neuroanatomical organization of the PB remains unclear, our first step was to use specific antibodies against two neural lineage transcription factors: Forkhead box protein2 (FoxP2) and LIM homeodomain transcription factor 1 beta (Lmx1b) to define the PB in adult rats. This allowed us to construct a cytoarchitectonic PB map based on the distribution of neurons that constitutively express these two transcription factors. Second, the in situ hybridization method combined with immunohistochemistry demonstrated that mRNA for glutamate vesicular transporter Vglut2 (Slc17a6) was present in most of the Lmx1b+ and FoxP2+ parabrachial neurons, indicating these neurons use glutamate as a transmitter. Third, conscious rats were maintained in a hypotensive or hypertensive state for 2h, and then, their brainstems were prepared by the standard c-Fos method which is a measure of neuronal activity. Both hypotension and hypertension resulted in c-Fos activation of Lmx1b+ neurons in the external lateral-outer subdivision of the PB (PBel-outer). Hypotension, but not hypertension, caused c-Fos activity in the FoxP2+ neurons of the central lateral PB (PBcl) subnucleus. The Kölliker-Fuse nucleus as well as the lateral crescent PB and rostral-most part of the PBcl contain neurons that co-express FoxP2+ and Lmx1b+, but none of these were activated after blood pressure changes. Salt-sensitive FoxP2 neurons in the pre-locus coeruleus and PBel-inner were not c-Fos activated following blood pressure changes. In summary, the present study shows that the PBel-outer and PBcl subnuclei originate from two different neural progenitors, contain glutamatergic neurons, and are affected by blood pressure changes, with the PBel-outer reacting to both hypo- and hypertension, and the PBcl signaling only hypotensive changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Consciousness
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Hypertension / metabolism*
  • Hypotension / metabolism*
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pons / cytology*
  • Pons / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxp2 protein, rat
  • LIM homeobox transcription factor 1 beta
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Transcription Factors