Does GFAP mRNA and mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptor binding detect serotonergic neuronal degeneration in rat?

C. Bendotti, S. Baldessari, M. Pende, G. Tarizzo, A. Miari, M. L. Presti, T. Mennini, R. Samanin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intracerebroventricularly (ICV) injected 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT), which reduced by 70-90% forebrain serotonin levels, significantly raised glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) mRNA levels in the hippocampus and nucleus raphe dorsalis 5 days but not 15 days after the lesion. A significant increase of mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptors (MBR), measured by binding autoradiography of 3H-PK 11195, was found in the nucleus raphe dorsalis 5 and 15 days after the ICV 5,7-DHT and also in the hippocampus, ventral tegmental area, and substantia nigra at 15 days. No significant effect was observed in the striatum and cortex for either GFAP mRNA or MBR binding. Unlike the ICV route, bilateral injection of 5,7-DHT into the medial forebrain bundle, which caused a 65-90% reduction of serotonin levels in different forebrain regions, significantly raised GFAP mRNA and MBR binding only at the site of injection with no effect in hippocampus, striatum, and cortex. MBR binding slightly increased in the nucleus raphe dorsalis 15 days after the lesion. High doses of d-fenfluramine (10 mg/kg intraperitoneally twice daily for 4 days) caused 80-90% reduction of serotonin levels 5 days after the last injection but did not change the GFAP mRNA or the MBR binding in any of the brain regions considered. These findings suggest that the effect of 5,7-DHT on microglial and glial markers is probably related to a nonspecific interaction with other neuronal systems besides the serotonin or to direct interaction with glial cells; the use of these parameters for detecting selective degeneration of serotonin axons presents some obvious limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • 5,7-Dihydroxytryptamine
  • H-PK11195 autoradiography
  • d-Fenfluramine
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • Gliosis
  • Mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptor
  • Serotonergic neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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