Neurotransmitter receptors represent the molecular basis for structure-function relationships in the brain. Located in the membrane of neurons, they are responsible for transmitting signals from the outside to the inside of the cell. Each brain region has a specific expression pattern of different receptor types - a distinct receptor fingerprint - with crucial importance for its specialised function. We generate maps of regional and laminar differences in neurotransmitter receptor distribution patterns and integrate these with cytoarchitectonics. These maps provide important insights into the relationship between receptor gradients and known functional hierarchies and cognitive networks.
We can find characteristic changes in receptor densities in many neurological and psychiatric diseases including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative disorders. We study these alterations in patient samples and animal models in order to better understand the underlying disease mechanisms as a basis to identify new therapeutic targets.
We measure the densities of neurotransmitter receptors using quantitative in vitro autoradiography. Receptors in frozen tissue sections are detected with radio-activelly-labelled ligands. The concentration of the receptors can then be determined allowing for quantification in distinct anatomical positions. The densities are visualized as receptor fingerprints, which provide the mean density and standard deviation for each of the analyzed receptor types, averaged across samples.
The 3D reconstruction of receptor autoradiograms is being carried out in the context of the HIBALL project.
Our neurotransmitter receptor density maps are openly available via the Human Brain Project’s EBRAINS infrastructure.
Datasets containing the densities of receptors for classical neurotransmitters in a range of different brain regions are openly available via the EBRAINS Knowledge Graph.
Head of research group receptors
Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1)
Phone: +49 2461 61-4790
Brain structure & function 225, 881–907
Cortex 118: 132-153
NeuroImage 197, 716-741 [10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.08.035]
Handbook of Clinical Neurology 150: 355-387
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy 9: 28
Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 11:78
Current Opinion in Neurology 22(4): 331-339