D1 and D2 dopamine receptor mRNA expression in whole hemisphere sections of the human brain

Yasmin L. Hurd, Michio Suzuki, Göran C. Sedvall

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212 Scopus citations


Understanding dopamine signaling in human behavior requires knowledge of the distribution of all molecular components involved in dopamine pathways throughout the human brain. In the present study, the relative distributions of D1 and D2 dopamine receptor mRNAs were determined by in situ hybridization histochemistry in whole hemisphere sections from normal human post mortem brains. The findings confirmed information documented from single structure examination that the highest expression of both the D1 and D2 mRNAs were localized to the striatum. The cerebral cortex expressed moderate D1 mRNA in all regions with the highest signal in the medial orbital frontal area (Brodmann areas 11, 14), the paraterminal gyrus (Brodmann area 32) and the insular cortex (Brodmann areas 13-16), whereas the D2 mRNA expression had very low cortical expression. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and islands of Calleja had high expression of the D1 mRNA and moderate D2 mRNA levels. Moderate to high expression of the D2 mRNA was evident in the hippocampal formation, parafascicular and paraventricular thalamic nuclei, geniculate bodies, subthalamic nucleus, and pineal gland, all of which were devoid of, or showed only faint, D1 mRNA expression. Brainstem regions, e.g. substantia nigra, red nucleus, inferior colliculus, medial lemniscus, and pontine nuclei expressed D2, but not D1, mRNA. These results emphasize the differential anatomical localization of D1 and D2 dopamine receptor mRNA neuronal populations in the human brain. The restricted expression of the D1 mRNA to the cortical mantle and to a few forebrain structures indicates a strong involvement of the D1 system in cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-137
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine receptor
  • In situ hybridization
  • Islands of Calleja
  • Neocortex
  • Striatum


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