Nobuo Okado

University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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Publications (111)251.5 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The GLW-amide family is a neuropeptide family found in cnidarian species and is characterized by the C-terminal amino acid sequence -Gly-Leu-Trp-NH(2). To detect mammalian peptides structurally related to the GLW-amide family, we examined rat brain by immunohistochemistry with an anti-GLW-amide antibody. GLW-amide-like immunoreactivity (GLW-amide-LI) was observed in thin varicose fibers in some regions of the brain. Most neurons showing GLW-amide-LI were observed in the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, and trigeminal/spinal ganglia. These results strongly suggest that the rat nervous system contains as yet unidentified GLW-amide-like peptides, and that GLW-amide-LI in the brain is a good marker for ascending projections from mesopontine cholinergic neurons.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2009 · Cell and Tissue Research
  • K Nakadate · M Matsukawa · N Okado
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    ABSTRACT: Both serotonin and noradrenaline affect synapse formation and maintenance in the CNS. Although we previously demonstrated that serotonin regulates synaptic density via activation of serotonin(2A) receptor, it was still unclear which receptor subtype mediates the function of noradrenaline. In the present study we tried to identify the noradrenaline receptor (adrenoceptor) subtype, which could regulate the density of synapses in the rat visual cortex. Selective antagonists and/or agonists of adrenoceptor subtypes were administered to six weeks old rats. Changes in the density of axodendritic synapses were quantitatively examined in lamina I, where noradrenaline rather than serotonin is known to regulate the density of synapses. The alpha1 adrenoceptor antagonists (prazosin and 2-{[b-(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethyl]aminomethyl}-1-tetralone) decreased the number of synapses in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, administrations of the alpha1-agonist (methoxamine) increased the density of synapses. The beta1 adrenoceptor antagonist (atenolol) had no effect on the density of synapses. The alpha2-antagonist (rauwolscine) increased synaptic density, whereas the beta2-antagonist (ICI-118,551) decreased synaptic density. Simultaneous treatments with the alpha1-antagonist and alpha1-agonist caused the alpha1-agonist to competitively block the effect of the alpha1-antagonist and recover the density of synapses to the control values. In addition, the alpha1-antagonist/agonist appeared to show a reverse effect on the changes in synaptic density following alpha2- or beta2-antagonist treatment by acting via the alpha1 receptor. Moreover, decreased synaptic density when a selective noradrenergic neurotoxin (N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine) was counterbalanced by the alpha1-agonist. These data suggest that noradrenaline regulates the density of synapses in the rat visual cortex primarily via the alpha1 receptor subtype. Both serotonin(2A) and alpha1 receptors are known to couple with phospholipase C, which has been shown to increase intracellular calcium. It may help us to understand the underlying mechanisms for synaptic plasticity in the CNS.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2006 · Neuroscience
  • Fumie Naka · Naoko Narita · Nobuo Okado · Masaaki Narita
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    ABSTRACT: Environmental enrichment results in many modifications in the brain such as structural, behavioural, and biochemical changes. alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)-type receptors for excitatory amino acid glutamate are recently found to be involved in neuronal plasticity. In this study, we examined whether environmental enrichment modified the brain expression of mRNA for subunit composition of AMPA receptors in adult mice using the real-time quantitative PCR method and western blotting. Mice housed in enriched environments showed significantly higher levels of GluR2 and GluR4 subunits in the hippocampus compared to control mice. We concluded that environmental enrichment can change the expression of AMPA receptor subunits and thus might modify the potentials of brain plasticity.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2005 · Brain and Development
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    ABSTRACT: Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are involved in the intracellular pathways that respond to various extracellular signals. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) is a member of MAPKs and has various functions in neural development. However, the in vivo distribution of the activated form of ERK (p-ERK) in the developing nervous system is not well understood. Here, we investigated the expression of p-ERK in the spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of chick embryos. In the spinal cord, p-ERK-positive cells appeared in the ventral ventricular zone on embryonic day 4 (E4). From E6 onward, they appeared in the gray matter and in the white matter, suggesting migration from the ventricular zone. A double labeling method revealed that these p-ERK-positive cells included oligodendrocyte precursors. In the dorsal horn, p-ERK-positive small cells appeared on E6. Subsequently, the positive cells in the dorsal horn increased transiently in number and then decreased markedly by E10. Motoneurons also expressed p-ERK transiently on E7. In the DRG, weak p-ERK immunoreaction appeared in the ventrolateral region on E5. From E6, the immunoreactivity became stronger and by E9 intense p-ERK-positive cells were observed throughout the DRG. These data provide a neuroanatomical framework to begin to examine the in vivo role of ERK in neural development.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2005 · Neuroscience Research
  • H Ishiwata · T Shiga · N Okado
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal stress has long-lasting effects on cognitive function and on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response to stress. We previously reported that the serotonin concentration and synaptic density in the hippocampus were reduced following prenatal stress [Int J Dev Neurosci 16 (1998) 209]. Since serotonin plays a role in the formation and maintenance of synapses, we hypothesized that a neonatal reduction in hippocampal serotonin levels may lead to learning disabilities in prenatally stressed mice. To test this hypothesis, we treated prenatally stressed mice with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in order to normalize their postnatal serotonin turnover levels. What we found was that the oral administration of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor to prenatally stressed mice during postnatal weeks 1-3 but not 6-8 normalized their corticosterone response to stress, serotonin turnover in the hippocampus, and density of dendritic spines and synapses in the hippocampal CA3 region. Concomitantly, such treatment partially restored their ability to learn spatial information.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Neuroscience
  • Toru Maeshima · Takashi Shiga · Ryuzo Ito · Nobuo Okado
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    ABSTRACT: Previous physiological and pharmacological studies have shown that the serotonin2A (5-HT2A) receptor is involved in cerebellar functions. However, the expression of 5-HT2A receptors in the developing cerebellum has not been elucidated to date. In the present immunohistochemical study, we examined developmental changes of the distribution of 5-HT2A receptors in Purkinje cells of the rat cerebellum from embryonic day 18 (E18) to postnatal day 21 (P21). The weak immunoreaction to 5-HT2A receptors was found in the deep cerebellar nuclei on E19. In the cerebellar cortex of the hemisphere and the posterior vermis, somata of Purkinje cells became weakly immunoreactive on P0. With the dendritic elongation and arborization, the immunoreaction appeared in the proximal parts of Purkinje cell dendrites. Distal parts of the dendrites became immunoreactive after P12, and were strongly immunolabeled by P21. The present study may provide a structural basis to investigate the roles of 5-HT2A receptors during the cerebellar development.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2005 · Neuroscience Research
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the availability of the serum neurotrophins for the diagnosis of the patients with neurodevelopmental disorder, we measured the serum concentration of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-4 (NT-4) in the patients diagnosed with autism (n=18) and mental retardation (n=20), or healthy controls (n=16), using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. There tended to be a higher concentration of serum BDNF found in the autistic group ( P <0.05 by analysis of variance (ANOVA)) and the mental retardation group ( P <0.001 by ANOVA) compared to the control group. Serum NT-4 concentration tended to be increased in the mental retardation group (P <0.05 by ANOVA). We conclude that measuring the serum concentration of two neurotrophins, BDNF and NT-4, might be helpful to diagnose or classify disorders such as autism or mental retardation.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2004 · Brain and Development
  • Hirokazu Imai · Mutsumi Matsukawa · Nobuo Okado
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    ABSTRACT: The rat medial prefrontal cortex is known to have diverse brain functions such as learning and memory, attention, and behavioral flexibility. Although these functions are affected by monoamines (dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NA) and serotonin (5-HT)) and acetylcholine (ACh), the detailed mechanisms remain unclear. These neuromodulators also have effects on synapse formation and maintenance, and regulate plasticity in the central nervous system (CNS). To clarify the effects of these neuromodulators on changes in the density of synapses in the rat medial prefrontal cortex, we separately administered a D1- or D2-antagonist, NA neurotoxin, 5-HT synthetic inhibitor, or muscarinic ACh antagonist for 1 week, and counted the number of synapses on electron microscopic photographs taken from the prelimbic area of the medial prefrontal cortex. The density of synapses in lamina I was regulated by DA via D1-like receptors, and that in laminae II/III was decreased by depletion of NA or ACh. However, 5-HT did not have a regulatory effect on the synaptic density throughout the layers in this brain region. The data in this study and our previous studies indicate that there are appreciable regional differences in the magnitude of biogenic amine-mediated synaptic plasticity in the rat CNS. These neuromodulators may have a trophic-like effect on the selected neuronal circuit to maintain synaptic contacts in the rat CNS. The synaptic density in the medial prefrontal cortex regulated by monoamines and ACh could be important not only for synaptic plasticity in this region but also for pharmacotherapeutic drug treatment.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2004 · Brain Research
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    ABSTRACT: During the initial stages of development, the notochord provides repulsive signals for dorsal root ganglion (DRG) axons via semaphorin 3A/neuropilin-1, axonin-1/SC2, and other unknown repulsive molecules. The notochord is known to produce aggrecan, one of the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs). We report here that adding aggrecan to the culture medium cannot only induce DRG growth cone collapse, but also inhibit DRG axonal growth. Using cocultures composed of tissues derived from chick embryos or neuropilin-1-deficient mice treated with chondroitinase ABC, we show the direct evidence that CSPGs are involved in notochord-derived repulsion for DRG axons. At later developmental stages, CSPGs are involved in perinotochordal sheath-derived axon repulsion, but not in notochord core-derived repulsion. We further demonstrate that TAG-1/axonin-1/SC2 is not involved in mediating repulsive activities by CSPGs, but is required for notochord core-derived axon repulsion. Thus, notochord-derived multiple axon repulsions act in a spatiotemporal-specific manner to shape the initial trajectories of DRG axons.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2004 · Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
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    Mayumi Kondoh · Takashi Shiga · Nobuo Okado
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    ABSTRACT: Serotonergic fibers and receptors appear in the rat cerebellum during early postnatal development. In the present study, we investigated the actions of serotonin (5-HT) and its receptors in the dendrite formation of Purkinje cells in organotypic cultures of anterior and posterior lobes of the cerebellum at postnatal day 7. In anterior lobes after 4 days in vitro (4DIV), the dendritic areas and branchings of Purkinje cells were increased by the treatment of 2 microM 5-HT, but decreased by 20 microM 5-HT. In posterior lobes after 4DIV, the dendritic areas of Purkinje cells were increased by 5-HT (2, 20 and 200 microM). In contrast, 5-HT treatment decreased dendritic areas of Purkinje cells in both anterior and posterior lobes after 7DIV. Next, we determined the actions of specific 5-HT receptors in mediating the effects of 5-HT by treatment with selective 5-HT receptor agonists. In anterior lobes after 4DIV, dendritic areas of Purkinje cells were increased by a 5-HT1A receptor agonist (8-OH-DPAT), whereas decreased by a 5-HT2A receptor agonist (DOI). The present study suggested that the dendrite formation of Purkinje cells is promoted by 5-HT through 5-HT1A receptors, but inhibited by 5-HT through 5-HT2A receptors.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2004 · Neuroscience Research
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    ABSTRACT: Leg lengthening with nerve elongation is a common clinical treatment. We investigated morphological and molecular changes in peripheral nerves associated with femoral lengthening using animal models. Sciatic nerves of 13 week old male Wistar rats (n = 35) were elongated indirectly by leg lengthening for 14 days at 1 mm/day. At 3, 7, 14, 21, and 35 days following initiation of elongation, sciatic nerves on the elongated side and contralateral (control) side were excised at the midpoint of the femur. Internodal length was increased by 17%. Light and electron microscopic observation of transverse sections at 14 days showed elongated nerves appearing similar to control nerves with no degenerating axons and normal myelin thickness. We next examined changes of mRNA expression of a major myelin glycoprotein, P0, in elongated nerves using a quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization. P0 mRNA expression in elongated nerves was increased during the first 3 weeks, with expression reaching 160% of control nerve expression at 14 days. Results of in situ hybridization were confirmatory. We concluded that myelin synthesis occurred during gradual nerve elongation. In adulthood, Schwann cells retain ability to synthesize myelin in response to nerve stretching.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2003 · Experimental Neurology
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    ABSTRACT: Interaction between the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis and the serotonergic system is thought to be disrupted in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients. We examined a serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene promoter polymorphism, which affects the transcriptional efficiency of 5-HTT, in 78 CFS patients using PCR amplification of the blood genomic DNA. A significant increase of longer (L and XL) alleic variants was found in the CFS patients compared to the controls both by the genotype-wise and the allele-wise analyses (both p<0.05, by χ2 test and Fisher’s exact test). Attenuated concentration of extracellular serotonin due to longer variants may cause higher susceptibility to CFS.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2003 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
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    ABSTRACT: Interaction between the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and the serotonergic system is thought to be disrupted in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients. We examined a serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene promoter polymorphism, which affects the transcriptional efficiency of 5-HTT, in 78 CFS patients using PCR amplification of the blood genomic DNA. A significant increase of longer (L and XL) alleic variants was found in the CFS patients compared to the controls both by the genotype-wise and the allele-wise analyses (both p<0.05, by chi(2) test and Fisher's exact test). Attenuated concentration of extracellular serotonin due to longer variants may cause higher susceptibility to CFS.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2003 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
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    ABSTRACT: Initial trajectories of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) axons are shaped by chemorepulsive signals from surrounding tissues. Although we have previously shown that axonin-1/SC2 expression on DRG axons is required to mediate a notochord-derived chemorepulsive signal, Dev. Biol. 224, 112-121), other molecules involved in the non-target-derived repulsive signals are largely unknown. Using coculture assays composed of tissues derived from the chick embryo or mutant mice treated with function-blocking antibodies and phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C, we report here that the chemorepellent semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) and its receptor neuropilin-1 are required for mediating the dermamyotome- and notochord-derived, but not the ventral spinal cord-derived, chemorepulsive signal for DRG axons. The dermamyotome-derived chemorepulsion is exclusively dependent on Sema3A/neuropilin-1, whereas other molecules are also involved in the notochord-derived chemorepulsion. Chemorepulsion from the ventral spinal cord does not depend on Sema3A/neuropilin-1 but requires axonin-1/SC2 to repel DRG axons. Thus, differential chemorepulsive signals help shape the initial trajectories of DRG axons and are critical for the proper wiring of the nervous system.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2003 · Developmental Biology
  • M Matsukawa · K Nakadate · I Ishihara · N Okado
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    ABSTRACT: Biogenic amines have a trophic-like role for the formation and the maintenance of synapses in the CNS. We examined the changes in the number of synaptic profiles in the developing and adult rat visual cortex following selective depletion of noradrenaline and/or serotonin. By the drug-induced decreases in levels of noradrenaline or serotonin between 1 and 2 weeks after birth, the number of synaptic profiles was decreased by 29-55% compared with that of control animals. The magnitude of reduction in the number of synaptic profiles was virtually the same following simultaneous depletion of both noradrenaline and serotonin compared with the depletion of noradrenaline or serotonin alone. Later in the developmental period, the function of noradrenaline and serotonin in facilitating synapse formation and maintenance became less prominent than that in younger animals. In the control animals, the number of axosomatic synapses was the highest at around 2 weeks after birth, and decreased with development. The number of axodendritic synapses was the highest between 2 and 7 weeks after birth, and decreased to 50% at 11 weeks after birth. These data demonstrate that synapses in the rat visual cortex are overproduced during the early developmental period. We suggest that both serotonin and noradrenaline are necessary for synapse formation during the early stages of development of the rat visual cortex.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2003 · Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the effects of intermittent intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of cocaine (20 mg/kg) on subunit mRNAs of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NR1/NR2A-2C) in the rat brain by in situ hybridization using phosphor screen analysis. The level of NR1 subunit mRNA significantly increased in hippocampal complexes 1 h after a single i.p. injection of cocaine. After repeated cocaine injection, the mean scores of stereotyped behavior were increased with the number of injections. The level of NR1 subunit mRNA was obviously decreased in the striatum and cortices 24 h (early withdrawal) after a final injection following 14 days of subchronic administration. During the early withdrawal period, the amount of the NR1 subunit decreased in the nucleus accumbens, globus pallidus, and subiculum. In the dentate gyrus, the NR1 mRNA level significantly increased during early withdrawal in rats subchronically treated with cocaine. Levels of NR2B subunit mRNA were reduced in the cortices and striatum. During late withdrawal from cocaine, the level of NR2C subunit mRNA in the cerebellum was also reduced. These findings suggest that the disruption of NR1, NR2B, and NR2C subunits in the discrete brain regions occurs under the cocaine-related behavioral abnormalities and would be closely implicated in the initiation and expression of behavioral sensitization induced by repeated cocaine administration. Further studies on the changes in non-NMDA receptors are required to elucidate the biological significance of glutamate receptors for the mechanisms underlying the development of behavioral sensitization.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2002 · Synapse
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    ABSTRACT: Autism is defined as a congenital neurodevelopmental disorder in which serotonergic dysfunction may be involved in its pathogenesis. One of the characteristic laboratory findings in autistic patients is hyperserotonemia, although its mechanism has not been elucidated to date because of difficulties in studying human patients. Recent reports have demonstrated that thalidomide or valproic acid exposure during early embryonic days (first trimester) in humans causes higher incidence of autism. Morphologic abnormalities found in autism (e.g. cerebellar anomalies, reduced motor neuron numbers) have been reported in animals administered with these teratogens prenatally, suggesting the possibility of the use of these animals as an experimental autistic model. In this study, we evaluated monoamine levels in the brain and blood of rats exposed to teratogens prenatally. Of the groups exposed to thalidomide on embryonic day (E)2, E4, E7, E9, and E11, a significant increase of hippocampal serotonin was only observed in the group exposed on E9. Furthermore, E9 thalidomide and valproic acid exposure both resulted in an increase of hippocampal serotonin, frontal cortex dopamine, and hyperserotonemia. These results thus indicate that two potentially autism-inducing teratogens, thalidomide and valproic acid, have the same effect on early monoamine system development in the brain and the blood, which may explain the pathogenesis of autism.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2002 · Pediatric Research
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    ABSTRACT: Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons specifically project axons to central and peripheral targets according to their sensory modality. The Runt-related genes Runx1 and Runx3 are expressed in DRG neuronal subpopulations, suggesting that they may regulate the trajectories of specific axons. Here we report that Runx3-deficient (Runx3(-/-)) mice displayed severe motor uncoordination and that few DRG neurons synthesized the proprioceptive neuronal marker parvalbumin. Proprioceptive afferent axons failed to project to their targets in the spinal cord as well as those in the muscle. NT-3-responsive Runx3(-/-) DRG neurons showed less neurite outgrowth in vitro. However, we found no changes in the fate specification of Runx3(-/-) DRG neurons or in the number of DRG neurons that expressed trkC. Our data demonstrate that Runx3 is critical in regulating the axonal projections of a specific subpopulation of DRG neurons.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2002 · Nature Neuroscience
  • Y Ozawa · N Okado
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    ABSTRACT: We compared the developmental changes of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) 1 A and 5-HT2 A receptor immunoreactivity in the nuclei in relation to the cardiorespiratory or autonomic function in the human brain stem in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) patients and age-matched controls by means of immunohistochemical methods. There were significant decreases in 5-HT1 A and 5-HT2 A receptor immunoreactivity in the dorsal nucleus of the vagus, solitary nucleus and ventrolateral medulla in the medulla oblongata, and significant increases in the periaqueductal gray matter (PAG) of the midbrain in SIDS victims, but there were no significant differences between those in CCHS patients and controls. The decreased immunoreactivity of the receptors in the medulla oblongata was accompanied by brain stem gliosis. Therefore, the decreases in the receptors may be secondary to chronic hypoxia or repeated ischemia, but may be causally related to some impairment of the developing cardiorespiratory neuronal system. As 5-HT1 A and 5-HT2 A receptors were the most abundant in the fetal period and then decreased with subsequent development, the increases in 5-HT1 A and 5-HT2 A receptor immunoreactivity in PAG may reflect delayed neuronal maturation, but may also reflect compensatory changes in response to hypofunctioning serotonergic neurons in the medulla oblongata in SIDS. There was no abnormal expression of 5-HT1 A and 5-HT2 A receptors in CCHS brain stems, and so the pathophysiology seems to be different between SIDS and CCHS patients.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2002 · Neuropediatrics
  • N Okado · M Narita · N Narita
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    ABSTRACT: In our recent study allele variants in the promoter of serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene have been shown as a novel risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). L and XL alleles were more frequent and S allele was less frequent in SIDS victims compared to age-matched controls. Serotonin (5-HT) is suggested as a major agent that is closely involved in the etiology of SIDS. Although many risk factors of SIDS looked mutually unrelated each other, we found in literature many of them other than prone position to change 5-HT levels in the brain. Along with the genetic factors, environmental and temporal factors appear additively to lower the excitatory function of 5-HT to the respiratory center, and finally SIDS might occur. Now the pathophysiological mechanisms and symptoms of SIDS are explained by decreased levels of 5-HT.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2002 · Medical Hypotheses

Publication Stats

4k Citations
251.50 Total Impact Points


  • 1981-2009
    • University of Tsukuba
      • • Department of Anatomy
      • • Institute of Basic Medical Sciences
      Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
  • 2002
    • Kyoto University
      • Institute for Virus Research
      Kyoto, Kyoto-fu, Japan
    • Toho University
      • Department of Neonatology
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 1979-1986
    • Nihon University
      • Department of Anatomy
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 1984
    • Wake Forest University
      • Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy
      Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States