In vitro autoradiographic localization of calcitonin binding sites in human medulla oblongata

Patrick M. Sexton, George Paxinos, Xu‐Feng ‐F Huang, Frederick A.O. Mendelsohn

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In this study we examined the distribution of calcitonin (CT) binding sites in the human medulla oblongata by in vitro autoradiography. In competition studies, the rank order of potency for calcitonins competing for 125 I‐salmon CT binding was salmon CT > porcine CT > human CT, which is consistent with physiologically relevant CT receptors in other systems. For the determination of CT binding in the human medulla, 20‐μm cryostat sections were incubated with 125 I‐salmon CT in the presence or absence of 10 −6 M unlabelled salmon CT to map specific CT binding sites. Punctate binding was observed over discrete nuclei of the medulla. High binding densities were seen over subnuclei of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, the nucleus of the solitary tract, the intermediate reticular zone, the gigantocellular and dorsal paragigantocellular nuclei, and the raphe obscurus nucleus. Moderate levels of binding were observed over the lateral paragigantocellular nucleus and the rostral extent of the epiolivary nucleus. The cuneate and gracile nuclei and the fiber tracts did not contain detectable binding, while the inferior olivary nucleus had moderate levels of nonspecific binding. The localization of calcitonin binding sites in the human presents similarities but also important differences to the distribution in rat and cat. The most notable difference is the extreme binding densities in the intermediate reticular zone of the human. The location of binding sites suggests involvement of calcitonin in regulation of autonomic function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-463
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • brain
  • receptor
  • salmon calcitonin

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