Localization of CB1 cannabinoid receptor mRNA in the brain of the chick (Gallus domesticus)

Todd L. Stincic, Richard L. Hyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The cannabinoid receptor one (CB1) is prevalent in the brains of many species. Receptor binding, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical surveys have described the distribution of this receptor in a limited number of species. The current study used in situ hybridization to examine the expression of CB1 mRNA in the chick brain, a non-mammalian vertebrate. The results were compared to the observed patterns of expression for CB1 mRNA, protein, and agonist binding that have been reported for other avian species and mammals. Importantly, since CB1 receptors are typically located on neuronal terminals, comparison of the somatic mRNA expression with previously reported descriptions of the location of functional receptors, allows speculation about the circuits that make use of these receptors. The expression pattern for CB1 mRNA appears to be highly conserved across species in key areas such as the cerebellum and portions of the forebrain. For example, high levels of expression were observed in the avian amygdala and hippocampus, areas which express high levels of CB1 in mammals. The avian substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area, however, showed specific labeling. This finding is in stark contrast to the high levels of receptor binding or CB1 protein, but not CB1 mRNA in these areas of the mammalian brain. Moderate labeling was also seen throughout the hyperpallium and mesopallium. Throughout the brain, a number of regions that are known to be involved in visual processing displayed high levels of expression. For example, the tectum also had strong mRNA expression within layers 9-11 of the stratum griseum et fibrosum superficale and stratum album centrale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-73
Number of pages13
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Dec 15 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian
  • Comparative anatomy
  • Sensory system
  • Striatum
  • Tectum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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