Distribution of neuronal nitric oxide synthase immunoreactivity in adult male Sprague-Dawley rat brain

Acta Histochem. 2019 Nov;121(8):151437. doi: 10.1016/j.acthis.2019.08.004. Epub 2019 Sep 4.


Neuronal NOS (nNOS) accounts for most of the NO production in the nervous system that modulates synaptic transmission and neuroplasticity. Although previous studies have selectively described the localisation of nNOS in specific brain regions, a comprehensive distribution profile of nNOS in the brain is lacking. Here we provided a detailed morphological characterization on the rostro-caudal distribution of neurons and fibres exhibiting positive nNOS-immunoreactivity in adult Sprague-Dawley rat brain. Our results demonstrated that neurons and fibres in the brain regions that exhibited high nNOS immunoreactivity include the olfactory-related areas, intermediate endopiriform nucleus, Islands of Calleja, subfornical organ, ventral lateral geniculate nucleus, parafascicular thalamic nucleus, superior colliculus, lateral terminal nucleus, pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, periaqueductal gray, dorsal raphe nucleus, supragenual nucleus, nucleus of the trapezoid body, and the cerebellum. Moderate nNOS immunoreactivity was detected in the cerebral cortex, caudate putamen, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and the spinal cord. Finally, low NOS immunoreactivity were found in the corpus callosum, fornix, globus pallidus, anterior commissure, and the dorsal hippocampal commissure. In conclusion, this study provides a comprehensive view of the morphology and localisation of nNOS immunoreactivity in the brain that would contribute to a better understanding of the role played by nNOS in the brain.

Keywords: Immunohistochemistry; Morphology; Neuroanatomy; Neuronal nitric oxide synthase.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I
  • Nos1 protein, rat