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Neuroscience. 2000;100(4):849-59.

Changes in GABA-immunoreactivity during development of the rostral subdivision of the nucleus of the solitary tract.

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  • 1Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


GABA plays an important role in the processing of gustatory information in the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract. The following study used post-embedment immunohistochemistry in the rat brainstem to localize GABA at both the light and electron microscopic levels to characterize the developmental distribution of GABA and synaptogenesis of GABA-immunoreactive terminals in the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract. During the first postnatal week, GABA is present in the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract, but less of it is synaptic than any time later in development. Of the few synaptic terminals present at postnatal day 1, less than 20% are GABA-immunoreactive. This proportion more than doubles to reach adult levels by postnatal day 10. By weaning (postnatal day 20), GABA-immunoreactive cells are found in nearly the same density as in the adult. Development continues after weaning and is characterized by a disproportionate loss of non-GABA-containing cells. Finally, one previously identified subtype of GABA-immunoreactive terminal matures very late during the postweaning phase of development. The study provides the first analysis of the development of GABA-related circuitry in the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract using anatomical methods. These data provide the background with which to view the emerging physiology of developing taste neurons.

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