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J Neurosci Res. 2001 Jun 1;64(5):501-7.

Nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons in the rat superior colliculus: colocalization of NOS with NMDAR1 glutamate receptor, GABA, and parvalbumin.

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Instituto de Biofisica Carlos Chagas Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-5 90, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


We analyzed the potential input and output components of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-containing neurons in the rat superior colliculus (SC). To identify whether NOS-positive neurons receive glutamatergic input we investigated the colocalization of NOS with NMDA receptor subunit R1 (NMDAR1). In addition, to examine whether putative nitric oxide synthesizing neurons represent a neurochemically specific or distinct subpopulation of cells in the SC we studied the colocalization of NOS with the neurotransmitter GABA, the calcium-binding proteins parvalbumin, calbindin and calretinin and with neuropeptides such as somatostatin, substance P and neuropeptide Y. We found that 90% of NOS-positive neurons in the superficial layers of the rat SC express NMDAR1. Nearly 20% of the population of nitridergic neurons also expresses GABA and 15% of them express parvalbumin. NOS-positive neurons in the superior colliculus did not contain calretinin, calbindin or either of the neuropeptides tested. The results of this study show that the capacity for synthesizing NO in the SC is largely restricted to neurons that receive glutamatergic inputs and that some of these neurons express GABA or parvalbumin.

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