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Expression of Inhibin/Activin Proteins and Receptors in the Human Hypothalamus and Basal Forebrain

Authors

  • M. C. Miller,

    1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
    2. Division of Neuropathology, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • G. M. Lambert-Messerlian,

    1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
    2. Division of Medical Screening and Special Testing, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • E. E. Eklund,

    1. Division of Medical Screening and Special Testing, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • N. L. Heath,

    1. Division of Neuropathology, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • J. E. Donahue,

    1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
    2. Division of Neuropathology, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • E. G. Stopa

    1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
    2. Division of Neuropathology, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.
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Geralyn M. Lambert-Messerlian, Division of Prenatal and Special Testing, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, 70 Elm Street, 2nd Floor, Providence, RI 02903, USA (e-mail: gmesserlian@wihri.org).

Abstract

The inhibin/activin family of proteins is known to have a broad distribution of synthesis and expression in many species, as well as a variety of functions in reproductive and other physiological systems. Yet, our knowledge regarding the production and function of inhibin and activin in the central nervous system is relatively limited, especially in humans. The present study aimed to explore the distribution of inhibin/activin protein subunits and receptors in the adult human brain. The human hypothalamus and surrounding basal forebrain was examined using post-mortem tissues from 29 adults. Immunocytochemical studies were conducted with antibodies directed against the inhibin/activin α, βA, and βB subunits, betaglycan and the activin type IIA and IIB receptors. An immunoassay was also utilised to measure dimeric inhibin A and B levels in tissue homogenates of the infundibulum of the hypothalamus. Robust βA subunit immunoreactivity was present in the paraventricular, supraoptic, lateral hypothalamic, infundibular, dorsomedial and suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus, in the basal ganglia, and in the nucleus basalis of Meynert. A similar staining distribution was noted for the βB subunit, betaglycan and the type II receptor antibodies, whereas α subunit staining was not detected in any of the major anatomical regions of the human brain. Inhibin B immunoreactivity was present in all tissues, whereas inhibin A levels were below detectable limits. These studies show for the first time that the inhibin/activin protein subunits and receptors can be co-localised in the human brain, implicating potential, diverse neural functions.

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