The topographical distribution of neuropeptide-containing cell bodies, fibers and terminals was studied in human parabrachial nuclei and the pontine tegmentum with immunohistochemical stainings. Brains of seven adult human subjects of 35-72 years were fixed within 2 h post mortem. Serial sections were immunostained by antisera of 14 different neuropeptides-oxytocin, vasopressin, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, angiotensin II, calcitonin gene-related peptide, β-endorphin, dynorphin A, dynorphin B, leucine-enkephalin, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone, substance P, neuropeptide Y, cholecystokinin and galanin-alternately. All of these peptides were found to be present in nerve fibers and terminals, but only two, angiotensin II and dynorphin B, in cell bodies of the parabrachial nuclei. Calcitonin gene-related peptide-, neuropeptide Y-, cholecystokinin- and galanin-immunoreactive cells were present in other areas of the pontine tegmentum, like the motor trigeminal nucleus, locus coeruleus, periventricular gray matter but not in the parabrachial nuclei. Peptidergic fibers were distributed unevenly throughout the pontine tegmentum having unique, individual distribution patterns. In the parabrachial nuclei, substance P, neuropeptide Y, cholecystokinin and galanin showed the highest density of immunoreactive neuronal networks. Moderate to low concentrations of immunoreactive processes were detected by calcitonin gene-related peptide, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone, dynorphin B, thyrotropin releasing hormone, leucine-enkephalin, dynorphin A, angiotensin II, β-endorphin, vasopressin and oxytocin antisera, respectively. Other pontine tegmental areas, like the locus coeruleus, dorsal tegmental, pontine raphe and motor trigeminal nuclei as well as the centrat gray of the tegmental region exhibited a varying assortment of neuropeptides with distinct, individual localization patterns. Their detailed topographical distributions are mapped and given in coronal sections.
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