Distribution of serotonin-containing cell bodies in the brainstem of the human fetus determined with immunohistochemistry using antiserotonin serum

Brain Dev. 1986;8(4):355-65. doi: 10.1016/s0387-7604(86)80055-9.


The distribution of serotonin (5HT) neurons was investigated in the brainstem of 8 human fetuses ranging in age from 15 to 27 weeks of gestation. We conducted the peroxidase-antiperoxidase (PAP) immunohistochemical technique using antiserotonin serum to detect the cell bodies of 5HT-containing neurons. Positively stained 5HT neurons were clearly demonstrated in the brainstem of all fetuses examined. They varied in shape, showing round to oval cell bodies with unipolar, bipolar, or multipolar processes. A large number of 5HT neurons were located in the midline raphe nuclei. In addition, numerous 5HT neurons were observed widely in the other tegmental areas. The nuclei containing 5HT neurons were listed according to the terminology by Olszewski and Baxter for human brainstem, and an atlas was given. The distribution of 5HT neurons in the raphe nuclei of human fetuses was essentially similar to those of many mammals already reported. However, the lateral extension of 5HT neurons to the other tegmental areas beyond the midline raphe nuclei was much greater in human fetuses compared to other mammals.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Stem / analysis
  • Brain Stem / embryology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Medulla Oblongata / analysis
  • Medulla Oblongata / embryology
  • Mesencephalon / analysis
  • Mesencephalon / embryology
  • Neurons / analysis
  • Pons / analysis
  • Pons / embryology
  • Serotonin / analysis*
  • Serotonin / immunology
  • Serotonin / physiology


  • Serotonin