COX-2, a synaptically induced enzyme, is expressed by excitatory neurons at postsynaptic sites in rat cerebral cortex

Walter E. Kaufmann, Paul F. Worley, Jodi Pegg, Margaret Bremer, Peter Isakson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postnatal development and adult function of the central nervous system are dependent on the capacity of neurons to effect long-term changes of specific properties in response to neural activity. This neuronal response has been demonstrated to be tightly correlated with the expression of a set of regulatory genes which include transcription factors as well as molecules that can directly modify cellular signaling. It is hypothesized that these proteins play a role in activity-dependent responses. Previously, we described the expression and regulation in brain of an inducible form of prostaglandin synthase/cyclooxygenase, termed COX-2. COX-2 is a rate-limiting enzyme in prostanoid synthesis and its expression is rapidly regulated in developing and adult forebrain by physiological synaptic activity. Here we demonstrate that COX-2 immunoreactivity is selectively expressed in a subpopulation of excitatory neurons in neo- and allocortices, hippocampus, and amygdala and is compartmentalized to dendritic arborizations. Moreover, COX-2 immunoreactivity is present in dendritic spines, which are specialized structures involved in synaptic signaling. The developmental profile of COX- 2 expression in dendrites follows well known histogenetic gradients and coincides with the critical period for activity-dependent synaptic remodeling. These results suggest that COX-2, and its diffusible prostanoid products, may play a role in postsynaptic signaling of excitatory neurons in cortex and associated structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2317-2321
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 19 1996


  • dendrites
  • forebrain
  • immunochemistry
  • monoclonal antibodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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