Somatostatin and leu-enkephalin in the rat auditory brainstem during fetal and postnatal development

Anat Embryol (Berl). 1995 May;191(5):425-43. doi: 10.1007/BF00304428.


A transient expression of the neuropeptide somatostatin has been described in several brain areas during early ontogeny and several opioid peptides, such as leu-enkephalin, have also been found in the brain at this stage in development. It is therefore believed that somatostatin and leu-enkephalin may play a role in neural maturation. The aim of the present study was to describe the spatiotemporal pattern of somatostatin and leu-enkephalin immunoreactivity in the auditory brainstem nuclei of the developing rat and to correlate it with other developmental events. In order to achieve this goal, we applied peroxidase-antiperoxidase immunocytochemistry to rat brains between embryonic day (E) 17 and adulthood. Somatostatin immunoreactivity (SIR) was found in all nuclei of the auditory brainstem, yet it was temporally restricted in most nuclei. SIR appeared prenatally and reached maximum levels around postnatal day (P) 7, when great numbers of immunoreactive neurons were present in the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) and in the lateral lemniscus. At that time relatively low numbers of cells were labeled in the dorsal cochlear nucleus, the lateral superior olive (LSO), and the inferior colliculus (IC). During the same period, when somata in the VCN were somatostatin-immunoreactive (SIR), a dense network of labeled fibers was also present in the LSO, the medial superior olive (MSO), and the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB). As these nuclei receive direct input from VCN neurons, and as the distribution and morphology of the somatostatinergic fibers in the superior olivary complex (SOC) was like that of axons from VCN neurons, these findings suggest a transient somatostatinergic connection within the auditory system. Aside from the LSO, MSO, and MNTB, labeled fibers were found to a smaller extent in all other auditory brainstem nuclei. After P7, the SIR decreased and only a few immunoreactive elements were found in the adult auditory brainstem nuclei, indicating that somatostatin is transiently expressed in the rat auditory brainstem. Leu-enkephalin immunoreactivity showed a lower number and weaker intensity of labeled structures as compared to SIR, with E18 being the earliest day at which labeled fibers appeared in the SOC. At birth, immunoreactive fibers were also present in the cochlear nuclear complex and in the IC. Leu-enkephalin immunoreactive somata were found only after P12 in the CN and after P16 in the IC. Leu-enkephalin immunoreactivity was not transient, but increased progressively with age until about P21, when the adult levels were reached.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / chemistry
  • Auditory Pathways / embryology
  • Auditory Pathways / growth & development
  • Brain Stem / chemistry*
  • Brain Stem / embryology
  • Brain Stem / growth & development
  • Cochlear Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cochlear Nucleus / embryology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / growth & development
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Enkephalin, Leucine / analysis*
  • Enkephalin, Leucine / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inferior Colliculi / chemistry
  • Inferior Colliculi / embryology
  • Inferior Colliculi / growth & development
  • Olivary Nucleus / chemistry
  • Olivary Nucleus / embryology
  • Olivary Nucleus / growth & development
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley / embryology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley / growth & development
  • Somatostatin / analysis*
  • Somatostatin / physiology


  • Somatostatin
  • Enkephalin, Leucine