Differential galanin receptor-1 and galanin expression by 5-HT neurons in dorsal raphé nucleus of rat and mouse: evidence for species-dependent modulation of serotonin transmission


: Dr A. L. Gundlach, Howard Florey Institute, as above.
E-mail: a.gundlach@hfi.unimelb.edu.au


Galanin and galanin receptors are widely expressed by neurons in rat brain that either synthesize/release and/or are responsive to, classical transmitters such as γ-aminobutyric acid, acetylcholine, noradrenaline, histamine, dopamine and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT). The dorsal raphé nucleus (DRN) contains ≈ 50% of the 5-HT neurons in the rat brain and a high percentage of these cells coexpress galanin and are responsive to exogenous galanin in vitro. However, the precise identity of the galanin receptor(s) present on these 5-HT neurons has not been previously established. Thus, the current study used a polyclonal antibody for the galanin receptor-1 (GalR1) to examine the possible expression of this receptor within the DRN of the rat and for comparative purposes also in the mouse. In the rat, intense GalR1-immunoreactivity (IR) was detected in a substantial population of 5-HT-immunoreactive neurons in the DRN, with prominent receptor immunostaining associated with soma and proximal dendrites. GalR1-IR was also observed in many cells within the adjacent median raphé nucleus. In mouse DRN, neurons exhibited similar levels and distribution of 5-HT-IR to that in the rat, but GalR1-IR was undetectable. Consistent with this, galanin and GalR1 mRNA were also undetectable in mouse DRN by in situ hybridization histochemistry, despite the detection of GalR1 mRNA (and GalR1-IR) in adjacent cells in the periaqueductal grey and other midbrain areas. 5-HT neuron activity in the DRN is primarily regulated via 5-HT1A autoreceptors, via inhibition of adenylate cyclase and activation of inward-rectifying K+ channels. Notably, the GalR1 receptor subtype signals via identical mechanisms and our findings establish that galanin modulates 5-HT neuron activity in the DRN of the rat via GalR1 (auto)receptors. However, these studies also identify important species differences in the relationship between midbrain galanin and 5-HT systems, which should prompt further investigations in relation to comparative human neurochemistry and which have implications for studies of animal models of relevant neurological conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.