Reelin-immunoreactive neurons, axons, and neuropil in the adult ferret brain: Evidence for axonal secretion of reelin in long axonal pathways

Veronica Martinez-Cerdeno, María J. Galazo, Francisco Clascá

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31 Scopus citations


Reelin is a large secretable protein which, when developmentally defective, causes the reeler brain malformation in mice and a recessive form of lissencephaly with cerebellar hypoplasia in humans. In addition, Reelin is heavily expressed throughout the adult brain, although its function/s there are still poorly understood. To gain insight into which adult neuronal circuits may be under the influence of Reelin, we systematically mapped Reelin-immunoreactive neuronal somata, axons, and neuropil in the brain and brainstem of ferrets. Results show that Reelin immunoreactivity is found in widespread but specific sets of neuronal bodies, axonal tracts, and gray matter neuropil regions. Depending on the region, the immunoreactive neuronal somata correspond to interneurons, projection neurons, or both. Some well-defined axonal projection systems are immunoreactive, whereas most other white matter tracts are unlabeled. The labeled pathways include, among others, the lateral olfactory tract, the entorhinohippocampal (perforant) pathway, the retroflex bundle, and the stria terminalis. Labeled axons in these tracts contain large numbers of discrete, very small, immunoreactive particles, suggestive of secretory vesicles under the light microscope. The neuropil in the terminal arborization fields of these axons is also heavily immunoreactive. Taken together, our observations are consistent with the notion that some neurons may anterogradely transport Reelin along their axons in large membrane-bound secretory vesicles (Derer et al. [2001] J. Comp. Neurol. 440:136-143) and secrete it into their terminal arborization fields, which may be quite distant from the somata synthesizing the protein. These findings have implications for identifying where Reelin acts in adult brain circuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-116
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 11 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebellum
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Hippocampus
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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