Cellular quantification of tyrosine hydroxylase in the rat brain by immunoautoradiography

J Neurochem. 1993 Aug;61(2):617-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1993.tb02166.x.


We developed a rapid and sensitive radioimmunohistochemical method for the quantification of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) at both the anatomical and cellular level. Coronal tissue sections from fresh-frozen rat brains were incubated in the presence of a TH monoclonal antibody. The reaction was revealed with a 35S-labeled secondary antibody. TH content was quantified in catecholaminergic brain areas by measuring optical density on autoradiographic films or silver grain density on autoradiographic emulsion-coated sections. Regional TH concentrations determined in the locus ceruleus (LC), substantia nigra pars compacta (SNC), and ventral tegmental area (VTA) were significantly increased by 45% after reserpine treatment in the LC but unchanged in the SNC and VTA. Microscopic examination of TH radioimmunolabeling showed a heavy accumulation of silver grains over catecholaminergic cell bodies. In the LC, grain density per cell was heterogeneous and higher in the ventral than in the dorsal part of the structure. After reserpine treatment, TH levels were significantly increased (57%) in the neurons of the LC but not in those of the SNC or VTA. The data support the validity of this radioimmunohistochemical method as a tool for quantifying TH protein at the cellular level and they confirm that TH protein content is differentially regulated in noradrenergic and dopaminergic neurons in response to reserpine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Catecholamines / physiology
  • Immunoassay*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reserpine / pharmacology
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis*


  • Catecholamines
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • Reserpine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase