Immunohistochemical localization of calbindin-D28k and calretinin in the brainstem of anuran and urodele amphibians



Calbindin-D28k (CB) and calretinin (CR) are calcium binding proteins present in distinct sets of neurons; they act as buffers regulating the concentration of intracellular calcium. CB and CR immunohistochemistry was studied in the brainstem of anuran and urodele amphibians in combination with other markers (choline acetyltransferase, tyrosine hydroxylase, and nitric oxide synthase), which served to clarify the localization and signature of many cell groups. CR labeled the retinorecipient layers of the optic tectum, and CB and CR labeled distinct tectal cell populations. The two proteins were largely complementary in the torus semicircularis and marked auditory and lateral line sensory regions, depending on the species. CB and CR in the mesencephalic and isthmic tegmentum specified the boundaries of basal and medial longitudinal bands. In the cerebellum, CB labeled Purkinje cells in all species, whereas CR was mainly found in fibers and labeled Purkinje cells only in Rana. In the parabrachial region, CB and CR allowed the distinction of the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, isthmic nucleus, locus coeruleus, and rostral octavolateral nuclei. The distribution of CB- and CR-immunoreactive cells in the reticular formation and central gray was consistent with the current models of brainstem segmentation in amphibians. CR was found in the auditory fibers and nuclei in Rana and in mechanosensory lateral line fibers in Xenopus and urodeles, whereas CB mainly labeled vestibular fibers and nuclei in all species. These results highlight the anatomical complexity of the amphibian brainstem and help in an understanding of its regional organization that is not cytoarchitectonically evident. J. Comp. Neurol. 515:503–537, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.