Cytoglobin (Cygb), a novel oxygen-binding protein, is expressed in the majority of tissues and has been proposed to function in nitric oxide (NO) metabolism in the vasculature and to have cytoprotective properties. However, the overall functions of Cygb remain elusive. Cygb is also expressed in a subpopulation of brain neurons. Recently, it has been shown that stress upregulates Cygb expression in the brain and the majority of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS)-positive neurons, an enzyme that produces NO, co-express Cygb. However, there are more neurons expressing Cygb than nNOS, thus a large number of Cygb neurons remain uncharacterized by the neurochemical content. The aim of the present study was to provide an additional and more detailed neurochemical phenotype of Cygb-expressing neurons in the rat hippocampus. The rat hippocampus was chosen due to the abundance of Cygb, as well as this limbic structure being an important target in a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Using triple immunohistochemistry, it was demonstrated that nearly all the parvalbumin- and heme oxygenase 1-positive neurons co-express Cygb and to a large extent, these neuron populations are distinct from the population of Cygb neurons co-expressing nNOS. Furthermore, it was shown that the majority of neurons expressing somastostatin and vasoactive intestinal peptide also co-express Cygb and nNOS. Detailed information regarding the neurochemical phenotype of Cygb neurons in the hippocampus can be a valuable tool in determining the function of Cygb in the brain.
Biomedical Reports, 2014, Vol 2, Issue 5, p. 620-627