We have described a system of neurons containing a pigment with the empirical staining properties of melanin and which is likely to be identical with the human catecholamine neuron system. It would clearly be preferable to identify the human catecholaminergic neurons by immunohistochemical staining for tyrosine hydroxylase (see Hartman, 1974; Pickel, Hervonen, Joh and Reis, 1980), and this work is underway in our laboratory. Until such confirmation is available, it seems reasonable to use the pattern of melanin pigmentation (which is most easily recognized in thick, e.g. 50 μm, sections) as a method to assess the integrity of the human central catecholamine system. The present work provides a detailed map of the normal adult melanin pigmentation system against which to judge the brains of patients with various pathological conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology