Galanin, a 29‐amino acid peptide, has been shown by immunocytochemistry to occur in most large acetylcholinergic neurons of the complex that includes the nucleus basalis of Meynert and the nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca in nonhuman primates. In contrast, several studies have reported that most large neurons of the human nucleus basalis of Meynert complex appear to lack galanin immunoreactivity. We investigated this apparent species‐difference by hybridization histochemistry for galanin messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) in humans and baboons. The results confirm previous immunocytochemical data; very few large neurons of the nucleus basalis of Meynert complex in humans contained detectable galanin messenger RNA, whereas most such cells in baboons were labeled by the oligodeoxynucleotide probe. The few labeled neurons in humans were primarily medial or ventral to the main body of the nucleus basalis of Meynert and corresponded in location to a minor population of relatively intensely labeled cells in baboons. These findings indicate that the indetectability of immunoreactive galanin in most cells of the nucleus basalis of Meynert complex in humans is due to a paucity or an absence of galanin messenger RNA and not to differences in posttranslational processing or transport of the peptide. Inasmuch as the probe labeled neurons in several other nuclei of both species, it is unlikely that differences in galanin messenger RNA sequences underlie the species‐related disparity in hybridization in the nucleus basalis of Meynert complex. The indetectability of galanin messenger RNA in most cells of the human nucleus basalis of Meynert complex indicates that the expression of the galanin gene is regulated by as yet unidentified influences that differ in human and nonhuman primates. The varying phenotypes of galanin in primates suggest potentially important species‐differences in the function of galanin in neurons of the nucleus basalis of Meynert complex.
- Alzheimer's disease
- in situ hybridization
- nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca
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