Differential expression of erbB3 and erbB4 neuregulin receptors in dopamine neurons and forebrain areas of the adult rat

Heinz Steiner, Mariann Blum, Stephen T. Kitai, Paolo Fedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Neuregulins have been shown to play an important role in the development of the central nervous system, but their function in adult tissues is still unclear. We investigated the expression of the neuregulin receptors erbB3 and erbB4 in the adult rat brain by in situ hybridization histochemistry. Areas with considerable expression of erbB4 receptor mRNA include cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, medial habenula, reticular thalamic nucleus, several hypothalamic nuclei, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra pars compacta, and ventral tegmental area. Immunostaining for tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine depletion by 6-hydroxydopamine indicate that erbB4 is expressed in dopamine neurons in the latter two nuclei. Substantial erbB4 expression is also present in clusters of cells along the ventral and medial border of the striatum/nucleus accumbens and in the subependymal zone along the lateral and olfactory ventricles (rostral migratory stream), suggesting a role for neuregulins in adult cell proliferation. In contrast, erbB3 mRNA is mostly expressed in white matter throughout the brain and in the ependyma of the ventral half of the third ventricle (tanycytes). These results demonstrate that expression of erbB3 and erbB4 receptors is widespread in the adult rat brain and suggest a function for neuregulins into adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-503
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine neurons
  • erbB3
  • erbB4
  • In situ hybridization histochemistry
  • Neuregulin
  • Subependymal zone
  • Tyrosine kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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