, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 97–127 | Cite as

The glyoxylic acid fluorescence histochemical method: a detailed account of the methodology for the visualization of central catecholamine neurons

  • Olle Lindvall
  • Anders Björklund


This paper gives a detailed description of the glyoxylic acid fluorescence histochemical method as designed for the highly sensitive visualization of catecholamine neurons. In this method, the primary catecholamines, dopamine and noradrenaline, are efficiently converted to intensely fluorescent 2-carboxymethyl-dihydroisoquinoline derivatives in a well defined reaction with glyoxylic acid. The method is carried out on sections from fresh or glyoxylic acid-perfused tissue, which are immersed in a glyoxylic acid solution, dried, and then reacted either by heating at +100°C, or by glyoxylic acid vapour treatment at +100°C. The method has a high reproducibility, is rapid and convenient, and if desired, sections of good quality can be ready for fluorescence microscopy within half an hour after the sacrifice of the animal.

The glyoxylic acid method demonstrates central and peripheral dopamine- and noradrenaline-containing neurons with an extraordinary sensitivity and precision. The entire adrenergic neuron, including the non-terminal portions of the axon and sometimes also the dendrites, becomes fluorescent, making the method ideal for neuroanatomical tracing of central catecholamine pathways. The spectral characteristics of the glyoxylic acid-induced fluorophores have been investigated, and it is concluded that the catecholamine fluorophores can be identified and distinguished by microspectrofluorometry from those of other fluorogenic monoamines known to occur in the vertebrate brain.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olle Lindvall
    • 1
  • Anders Björklund
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistologyUniversity of LundLundSweden

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