Direct immunocytochemical localization of 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors in the adult rat spinal cord: a light and electron microscopic study using an anti-idiotypic antiserum

J Neurosci Res. 1994 May 1;38(1):109-21. doi: 10.1002/jnr.490380114.


In the present study, we performed the immunodetection of serotonergic (5-HT) receptor subtypes in the spinal cord by using an anti-idiotypic antiserum (TH8) at light and electron microscopic levels. This antibody has been shown to recognize 5-HT1B, 5-HT1C, and 5-HT2 receptor subtypes (Tamir et al.: J Neurochem 57:930-942, 1991). The TH8 immunoreactivity was observed in the dorsal and ventral horns of the gray matter. Light microscopy revealed that small cell bodies located in laminae I-III of the dorsal horn were intensely immunolabeled. A more homogenous and discrete staining was also observed throughout the entire dorsal horn. In the ventral horn, motoneurons were also immunoreactive (IR). Peroxidase deposits were observed as numerous patches covering the motoneuronal surface. Numerous interneurons were moderately and homogeneously immunostained. With the electron microscope, most of the labeled structures were identified as neurons (dendrites and perikarya) in both the dorsal and ventral horns. In the dorsal horn, immunoreactivity was present in dendrites and neuronal perikarya. A large majority of the immunoreactivity found in dendrites was not associated with synaptic differentiations. Indeed, the dendrites, in which peroxidase deposit was seen, were not locally involved in synapses. Very scarce synaptic varicosities were observed in close apposition with IR dendrites. In the ventral horn, TH8 immunoreactivity was present in dendrites, with an accumulation of peroxidase deposit on the active zone of synapses, facing presynaptic membranes. Both the postsynaptic membrane and the submembrane area were IR. In addition, a few astroglial fine processes were immunostained; most of them were observed in the dorsal horn. Scarce IR astroglial profiles were observed in the ventral horn. These observations show that such an antiserum constitutes a useful tool for the ultrastructural analysis of 5-HT receptor distribution. Finally, correlation between the immunocytochemical localization of 5-HT receptor subtypes and the modes of 5-HT transmission in the spinal cord (wiring and volume transmissions) is discussed in the present report.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Motor Neurons / immunology
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Serotonin / immunology
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Serotonin