Translocator protein (TSPO 18 kDa) is expressed by neural stem and neuronal precursor cells

Balázs Varga, Károly Markó, Nóra Hádinger, Márta Jelitai, Kornél Demeter, Károly Tihanyi, Ádám Vas, Emília Madarász

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Translocator protein 18 kDa, the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor by its earlier name, is a mitochondrial membrane protein associated with the mitochondrial permeability pore. While the function of the protein is not properly understood, it is known to play roles in necrotic and apoptotic processes of the neural tissue. In the healthy adult brain, TSPO expression is restricted to glial cells. In developing or damaged neural regions, however, TSPO appears in differentiating/regenerating neurons. Using immunocytochemical, molecular biological and cell biological techniques, we demonstrate that TSPO mRNA and protein, while missing from mature neurons, are present in neural stem cells and also in postmitotic neuronal precursors. Investigating some distinct stages of in vitro differentiation of NE-4C neural stem cells, TSPO 18 kDa was found to be repressed in a relatively late phase of neuron formation, when mature neuron-specific features appear. This timing indicates that mitochondria in fully developed neurons display specific characteristics and provides an additional marker for characterising neuronal differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-262
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 25 2009



  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Peripheral benzodiazepine binding
  • Translocator protein (18 kDa)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Varga, B., Markó, K., Hádinger, N., Jelitai, M., Demeter, K., Tihanyi, K., Vas, Á., & Madarász, E. (2009). Translocator protein (TSPO 18 kDa) is expressed by neural stem and neuronal precursor cells. Neuroscience Letters, 462(3), 257-262.