Expression of alpha2A adrenoceptors during rat neocortical development. Academic Article uri icon


  • Norepinephrine has been suggested to play a neurotrophic role during development and is present in the brain as early as embryonic day (E) 12. We have recently demonstrated that the alpha2A adrenoceptor subtype is widely expressed during times of neuronal migration and differentiation throughout the developing brain. Here, we report the temporal and spatial expression pattern of alpha2A adrenoceptors in neocortex during late embryonic and early postnatal development using in situ hybridization and receptor autoradiography. Functional alpha2 receptors in embryonic rat cortex were also detected using agonist stimulated [35S]GTPgammaS autoradiography. Both alpha2A mRNA and protein expression were strongly increased by E19 and E20, respectively. The increased expression was in the cortical plate and intermediate and subventricular zones, corresponding to tiers of migrating and differentiating neurons. This transient up-regulation of alpha2A adrenoceptors was restricted to the lateral neocortex. At E20, functional alpha2 adrenoceptors were also detected in deep layers of lateral neocortex. During the first week of postnatal development, the expression of alpha2A mRNA and protein changed markedly, giving rise to a more mature pattern of anatomical distribution. The temporal and spatial distribution of alpha2A adrenoceptors in developing neocortex is consistent with expression of functional proteins on migrating and differentiating layer IV to II neurons. These findings suggest that alpha2A receptors may mediate a neurotrophic effect of norepinephrine during fetal cortical development. The early delineation of the lateral neocortex, which will develop into somatosensory and auditory cortices, suggests an intrinsic regulation of alpha2A mRNA expression.

published proceedings

  • J Neurobiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Winzer-Serhan, U. H., & Leslie, F. M.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Winzer-Serhan, UH||Leslie, FM

publication date

  • February 1999