Layer-specific activity of tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase in the human neocortex

L. Négyessy, J. Xiao, O. Kántor, G. G. Kovács, M. Palkovits, T. P. Dóczi, L. Renaud, G. Baksa, T. Glasz, M. Ashaber, P. Barone, C. Fonta

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The ectoenzyme tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) is mostly known for its role in bone mineralization. However, in the severe form of hypophosphatasia, TNAP deficiency also results in epileptic seizures, suggesting a role of this enzyme in brain functions. Accordingly, TNAP activity was shown in the neuropil of the cerebral cortex in diverse mammalian species. However in spite of its clinical significance, the neuronal localization of TNAP has not been investigated in the human brain. By using enzyme histochemistry, we found an unprecedented pattern of TNAP activity appearing as an uninterrupted layer across diverse occipital-, frontal- and temporal lobe areas of the human cerebral cortex. This marked TNAP-active band was localized infragranulary in layer 5 as defined by quantitative comparisons on parallel sections stained by various techniques to reveal the laminar pattern. On the contrary, TNAP activity was localized in layer 4 of the primary visual and somatosensory cortices, which is consistent with earlier observations on other species. This result suggests that the expression of TNAP in the thalamo-recipient granular layer is an evolutionary conserved feature of the sensory cortex. The observations of the present study also suggest that diverse neurocognitive functions share a common cerebral cortical mechanism depending on TNAP activity in layer 5. In summary, the present data point on the distinctive role of layer 5 in cortical computation and neurological disorders caused by TNAP dysfunctions in the human brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-418
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 13 2011



  • Alzheimer disease
  • B6-dependent enzymes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypophosphatasia
  • Layer 5
  • Neurotransmitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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