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Neuronal nitric oxide synthase positive neurons in the human corpus callosum: a possible link with the callosal blood‑oxygen‑level dependent (BOLD) effect



Brain functions have been investigated in the past decades via the blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) effect using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

One hypothesis explaining the BOLD effect involves the Nitric Oxide (NO) gaseous neurotransmitter, possibly released also by cells in the corpus callosum (CC). The eventual presence of NO releasing neurons and/or glial cells in the CC can be assessed by immunohistochemistry. Serial sections both from paraffin-embedded and frozen samples of CC obtained from adult human brains autopsy were studied with immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence analysis, using an antibody against the neuronal isoform of Nitric Oxide Synthase (nNOS), the enzyme synthetizing the NO.

The staining revealed the presence of many nNOS-immunopositive cells in the CC, shown to be neurons with immunofluorescence. Neuronal NOS-positive neurons presented different morphologies, were more numerous 4 mm apart from the midline, and displayed a peak in the body of the CC. In some cases, they were located at the upper boundary of the CC, more densely packed in the proximity of the callosal arterioles.

The significant presence of nNOS-immunopositive neurons within the commissure suggests their probable role in the CC neurovascular regulation in the adult brain and could explain the BOLD effect detected in human CC.


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