Neuroglobin (Ngb) is a neuronal hemeprotein similar to myoglobin and hemoglobin and shares their capability for oxygen binding. It has thus been proposed that Ngb acts as an oxygen reservoir or combats reactive oxygen species. In the present study, we investigated the Ngb expression pattern in the rat brain using immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). This revealed the interesting finding that Ngb expression is restricted to a few neurone populations, many of which are involved in the sleep-wake cycle, circadian regulation or food regulation. In the forebrain we found intense Ngb expression in neurones in the piriform cortex, the central and medial amygdala, the medial preoptic area, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, the perifornical nucleus, the lateral hypothalamus. Within the mid- and hindbrain Ngb expressing neurones were found in the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, the pedunculo pontine tegmental nucleus, the locus coeruleus, and the lateral parabrachial nucleus. In the medulla oblongata Ngb expressing neurones were found in the nucleus of the solitary tract. The qRT-PCR data showed a diurnal variation of Ngb mRNA in the SCN, having a peak in the day time (light-period) and nadir during night (dark-period).
2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.