Monoamine neurotransmitters are released by specialized neurons regulating behavioral, motor, and cognitive functions. Although the localization of monoaminergic neurons in the brain is well known, the distribution and kinetics of monoamines remain unclear. Here, we generated a murine brain atlas of serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA), and norepinephrine (NE) levels using mass spectrometry imaging (MSI). We found several nuclei rich in both 5-HT and a catecholamine (DA or NE) and identified the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT), where 5-HT and NE are co-localized. The analysis of 5-HT fluctuations in response to acute tryptophan depletion and infusion of isotope-labeled tryptophan in vivo revealed a close kinetic association between the raphe nuclei, PVT, and amygdala but not the other nuclei. Our findings imply the existence of a highly dynamic 5-HT-mediated raphe to PVT pathway that likely plays a role in the brain monoamine system.
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