HCN1 ion channel immunoreactivity in spinal cord and medulla oblongata.Brain Res. 2006 Apr 07; 1081(1):79-91.BR
Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) non-selective cation channels in neurons carry currents proposed to perform diverse functions, including the hyperpolarization activated Ih current. The 4 HCN subunits have unique but overlapping patterns of expression in the CNS. Here, we examined the distribution of HCN1 channel subunits in the brainstem and spinal cord using immunohistochemistry. At all levels of the spinal cord dorsal horn, HCN1 immunoreactivity (HCN1-IR) was predominantly absent from laminae I and II, while a dense band of punctate labeling was visible in lamina III. Labeled neurons were identified in close vicinity to the central canal, in the lateral spinal nucleus, in the ventral horn and occasionally in lamina II and III. Those in the ventral horn were identified as alpha motor neurons using retrograde tracing and/or double or triple immunostaining with neuronal markers neurofilament 200 (NF200) and choline acetyltransferase. HCN1-IR neurons in the brainstem included neurons in sensory pathways such as the dorsal column nuclei, the area postrema, the spinal trigeminal nucleus as well as identified motor neurons in motor nuclei. In the nucleus ambiguus, a mixed visceral/motor nucleus, HCN1-IR was present only in NF200-IR cells, suggesting that it is expressed in motor but not autonomic preganglionic neurons. HCN1-IR motor neurons in the nucleus ambiguus also expressed the neurokinin 1 receptor and were labeled retrogradely from the larnyx. At the light microscopic level, the NTS and inferior olive contained punctate labeling, which ultrastructural examination revealed to be present in predominantly synaptic terminals or dendrites respectively. These data therefore described the first localization of the HCN1 subunit in the spinal cord and extend previous reports from the brainstem.