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J Electron Microsc Tech. 1990 May;15(1):34-48.

GABAergic synapses in the brain identified with antisera to GABA and its synthesizing enzyme, glutamate decarboxylase.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine 92717.


GABA is a known inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. The site of GABAergic synapses can be determined with immunocytochemical methods that localize either GABA or its synthesizing enzyme, glutamate decarboxylase (GAD). In general, GABAergic axon terminals contain pleomorphic synaptic vesicles and form symmetric synapses. However, a small number of GABAergic axon terminals in selected brain regions (spinal cord, cerebellum, superior colliculus, striatum, globus pallidus, inferior olive, and substantia nigra) form asymmetric synapses. GAD- and GABA-immunoreactive processes that contain synaptic vesicles participate in every known morphological type of chemical synapse. These include axosomatic, axodendritic, axospinous, initial segment, axoaxonic, dendrodendritic, serial, reciprocal, and ribbon synapses. Although GABAergic synapses form a heterogeneous group, they most commonly form axosomatic, axodendritic, and initial segment synapses in the brain and spinal cord. These findings provide helpful guidelines for the identification of GABAergic synapses in future studies.

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