Profiles of serotonin receptors in the developing human thalamus

Maria S.M. Wai, Dietrich E. Lorke, W. H. Kwong, Lihong Zhang, David T. Yew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The critical importance of the thalamus and its serotonergic innervation with respect to neuropsychiatric syndromes is increasingly recognized. This study investigates the localization of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) receptors by immunohistochemistry in the thalamic nuclei of human fetuses aged 21 to 32. weeks of gestation. Results indicate that, already at 21. weeks of gestation, two 5-HT receptors are present in the dorsomedial nucleus of the developing thalamus: 5-HT2A receptors are localized in neurons and 5-HT2C receptors in fibers. By 31 and 32. weeks of gestation, 5-HT1A and 5-HT4 receptors are also detected in neuronal fibers of the same nucleus. At this later developmental stage, the percentage of 5-HT2A labeled neurons has significantly increased in the dorsomedial nucleus, and 5-HT2C positive neurons are observed in the centromedian and lateroventral thalamic nuclei as well. In contrast, neither neuronal cells nor fibers display any immunoreactivity for 5-HT3 or 5-HT6 receptors at any of the ages examined. Our observation that 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C and 5-HT4 receptors are present in the human thalamus prenatally indicates that 5-HT may play a role during fetal development. Disrupted development of the thalamic serotonergic system during this gestational period may contribute to the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)238-242
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2011


  • Development
  • Fetus
  • Human
  • Serotonin receptors
  • Thalamus


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