Localization of P2X3 receptors and coexpression with P2X2 receptors during rat embryonic neurogenesis

Kwok Kuen Cheung, Geoffrey Burnstock

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


It is well known that extracellular ATP mediates rapid excitatory signaling by means of the ionotropic P2X receptors. One of its subunits, the P2X3 receptor, is well documented to be associated with sensory innervation in adult animals. It is speculated that the P2X3 receptor may have already been present in the early sensory system. The aim of this study was to investigate the distribution of the P2X3 receptor during neurogenesis by using immunohistochemistry on rat embryos from embryonic day (E)9.5-18.5. The P2X3 receptor was first identified in the hindbrain neural tube and the sensory ganglia in E11-11.5 embryos. At E14.5, the optic tract and retina, nucleus tractus solitarius, mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus, and sensory nerves in both respiratory and digestive tract showed positive staining. The facial nucleus, the prepositus hypoglossal nucleus, and the sympathetic ganglia also showed P2X3 immunoreactivity, even though these are not sensory associated. P2X3 immunoreactivity was detected in the vestibular nucleus, the nerves in mesentery, bladder, and kidney in E16.5 and in nerves in vibrissae in E18.5. P2X3 immunoreactivity in the facial nucleus, spinal trigeminal tract, the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus, and the vestibular nucleus were undetectable in postnatal day 16 rat brainstem. The P2X3 receptor was coexpressed with the P2X2 receptor in nucleus tractus solitarius, dorsal root ganglion, nodose ganglion, and the taste bud in E16.5 embryo, which was 5 days later than the first appearance of the native P2X3 receptor. In summary, we present a detailed expression pattern of the P2X3 receptor during neurogenesis and report that P2X3 immunoreactivity is down-regulated in early postnatal brainstems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-382
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP
  • Central nervous system
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neurogenesis
  • Purinoceptors
  • Sensory ganglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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