Midbrain dopaminergic neurons in the mouse: Computer-assisted mapping

E. L. Nelson, C. L. Liang, C. M. Sinton, D. C. German

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109 Scopus citations


The dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the midbrain play a role in cognition, affect and movement. The purpose of the present study was to map and quantify the number of DA neurons in the midbrain, within the nuclei that constitute cell groups A8, A9 and A10, in the mouse. Two strains of mice were used; the C57BL/6 strain was chosen because it is commonly used in neurobiological studies, and the FVB/N strain was chosen because it is used frequently in transgenic studies. DA neurons were identified, in every fifth 20-μm-thick coronal section, using an antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase. Cell locations were entered into a computer imaging system. The FVB/N strain has 42% more midbrain DA neurons than the C57BL/6 strain; on one side of the brain there were 15,135 ± 356 neurons (mean ± S.E.M.) in the FVB/N strain, and 10,645 ± 315 neurons in the C57BL/6 strain. In both strains, approximately 11% of the neurons were located in nucleus A8 (the DA neurons in the retrorubral field), 38% in nucleus A9 (the DA neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, pars reticulata, and pars lateralis), and 51% in nucleus A10 (the DA neurons in midline regions such as the ventral tegmental area, central linear nucleus, and interfascicular nucleus). The number of midbrain DA cells, and their distribution within the three nuclear groups, is discussed with respect to findings in other species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-371
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • immunohistochemical staining
  • retrorubral field
  • substantia nigra
  • tyrosine hydroxylase
  • ventral tegmental area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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