Localization of the Locus Coeruleus in the Mouse Brain


The locus coeruleus (LC) is a major hub of norepinephrine producing neurons that modulate a number of physiological functions. Structural or functional abnormalities of LC impact several brain regions including cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum and may contribute to depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, as well as Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease. These disorders are often associated with metal misbalance, but the role of metals in LC is only partially understood. Morphologic and functional studies of LC are needed to better understand the human pathologies and contribution of metals. Mice are a widely used experimental model, but the mouse LC is small (~0.3 mm diameter) and hard to identify for a non-expert. Here, we describe a step-by-step immunohistochemistry-based protocol to localize the LC in the mouse brain. Dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH), and alternatively, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), both enzymes highly expressed in the LC, are used as immunohistochemical markers in brain slices. Sections adjacent to LC-containing sections can be used for further analysis, including histology for morphological studies, metabolic testing, as well as metal imaging by X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM).

Journal of Visualized Experiments