NeuN Antibodies: Studying Neuronal Development and Differentiation

Neuronal nuclei (NeuN) antibodies serve as core tools for studying the development and differentiation of neurons and for staining mature neurons.

In 1992, Mullen and co-workers immunized mice with brain cell nuclei to create monoclonal antibodies1. Among these, one antibody successfully detected a nuclear protein that is specific to neurons. This nuclear protein is expressed by many neurons present in the peripheral and central nervous system. The team named this Neuronal Nuclei (NeuN)1.

Then later in 2009, the identity of the NeuN antibody was revealed as the mRNA splicing regulator called Fox-32. To date, NeuN antibodies continue to be a fundamental tool for Neuroscientists, serving as a dependable marker in the identification of mature neurons.

When and Where is NeuN Expressed

The nucleus of post-mitotic neurons contains most of the NeuN, which initially appears at embryonic day 9.5 in the neural tube of the mouse and associates with the neuronal cells that exit the cell cycle1. Usually, the expression of NeuN antibodies becomes obvious when the expression of doublecortin – the immature neuron marker – is downregulated.

The following cells do not express the NeuN antibodies 1,3,4:

  • Olfactory bulb mitral cells
  • Cerebellar Purkinje cells
  • Most cells of the retina’s inner nuclear layer
  • Retina photoreceptor cells
  • Sympathetic chain ganglion neurons
  • Neurons in the dorsal cochlear nucleus
  • Neurons of the inferior olive and dentate nuclei
  • Cortical Cajal-Retzius neurons

Uses of NeuN Antibodies

In many applications including flow cytometry and immunofluorescence, NeuN antibodies are used for identifying mature neurons in tissue sections and cell cultures. Together with other cell type markers, these antibodies can also be used for studying neural networks and the development and differentiation of neurons.

Moreover, NeuN antibodies can be used along with proliferation markers such as BrdU and Ki67 to detect neurons that have just departed the cell cycle, thus enabling the analysis of adult neurogenesis5.

Selecting a NeuN Antibody

Abcam’s NeuN RabMAb antibody® (ab177487) provides several benefits for neuronal staining. The company’s patented RabMAb technology guarantees reproducibility and specificity, while the rabbit host removes the background and cross-reactivity due to use of mouse monoclonals in mouse tissues. The NeuN RabMAb antibody® is available in a trial size of 10 µl, so that users can try it out themselves risk-free.


  1. Mullen, R. J., Buck, C. R. & Smith, A. M. Neun, a neuronal specific nuclear protein in vertebrates. Development 116, 201–211 (1992).
  2. Kim, K. K., Adelstein, R. S. & Kawamoto, S. Identification of neuronal nuclei (NeuN) as Fox-3, a new member of the Fox-1 gene family of splicing factors. J. Biol. Chem. 284, 31052–31061 (2009).
  3. Wolf, H. K. et al. NeuN: a useful neuronal marker for diagnostic histopathology. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 44, 1167–1171 (1996).
  4. Sarnat, H. B., Nochlin, D. & Born, D. E. Neuronal nuclear antigen (NeuN): a marker of neuronal maturation in early human fetal nervous system. Brain Dev. 20, 88–94 (1998).
  5. Eriksson, P. S. et al. Neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus. Nat. Med. 4, 1313–1317 (1998).

About Abcam

Abcam is a global life sciences company providing highly validated antibodies and other binders and assays to the research and clinical communities to help advance the understanding of biology and causes of disease.

Abcam’s mission is to serve life scientists to help them achieve their mission faster by listening to their needs, continuously innovating and improving and by giving them the tools, data and experience they want. Abcam’s ambition is to become the most influential life science company for researchers worldwide.

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Last updated: Jun 13, 2019 at 7:36 AM


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