Ultrastructural localization of reelin in the cortex in post-mortem human brain

Rosalinda C. Roberts, Leyan Xu, Joy K. Roche, Brian Kirkpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Reelin is a glycoprotein that plays a critical role in brain development, including proper cortical lamination. In adult animals, reelin continues to be expressed in different neuronal populations in many brain regions. We performed labeling for reelin immunoreactivity (-i) in post-mortem cerebral cortex from five adults and two fetuses with three different antibodies. The tissue was then processed for light and electron microscopy. In cell bodies, reelin-i was found in pyramidal and nonpyramidal neurons on the outer nuclear membrane, rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER), and ribosomes. In dendrites, labeling was found in the rER and ribosomes and was diffusely distributed in spines. In the neuropil, diffuse labeling was seen in small axon terminals and unmyelinated axons, and the postsynaptic density (PSD) frequently had discrete labeling. Reelin-i was also found in glial somata and in small astrocytic processes. With rare exceptions, reelin-i in the adult was conspicuously absent from both the extracellular matrix (ECM) and the subcellular organelles, where secreted proteins are modified and taken back into the cell. Labeling in fetal cortex was similar to that in the adult except for prominent labeling in the ECM. The presence of reelin in adult spines, PSD, and terminals suggests that in the adult human reelin has a role in synaptic remodeling, which is consistent with the evidence for its role in long-term potentiation in the adult brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-308
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 14 2005


  • Human cortex
  • Plasticity
  • Reelin
  • Schizophrenia
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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