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Neuroscience. 2002;109(1):27-44.

The expression of the glutamate re-uptake transporter excitatory amino acid transporter 1 (EAAT1) in the normal human CNS and in motor neurone disease: an immunohistochemical study.

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Department of Neurology, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.


A monoclonal antibody to excitatory amino acid transporter 1 (EAAT1) has been generated which robustly stains paraffin-embedded, formaldehyde-fixed as well as snap-frozen human post-mortem brain tissue. We have used this antibody to map the distribution of EAAT1 throughout normal human CNS tissue. In addition this antibody has been used to perform a semi-quantitative immunohistochemical analysis of the expression of EAAT1 in motor cortex and cervical cord tissue taken from motor neurone disease cases (n=17) and neurologically normal controls (n=12). By comparing the relative optical density measurements of identical regions of motor cortex and cervical spinal cord an increase in the expression levels of EAAT1 was observed in motor neurone disease tissue compared to the control tissue and in both motor cortex and cervical spinal cord (9-17% and 13-33% increases respectively). EAAT1 was observed to be the most abundant transporter in more "caudal" brain regions such as the diencephalon and brainstem and its expression in other regions was frequently more uniform than that of EAAT2. In the motor cortex, EAAT1 immunoreactivity was present in all grey matter laminae, with some staining of individual astrocytes in the white matter. In spinal cord, EAAT1 immunoreactivity was strongest in the substantia gelatinosa. In the ventral horn, motor neurones were surrounded with a dense rim of perisomatic EAAT1 immunoreactivity, and the neuropil showed diffuse staining. Additional studies using double-labelling immunocytochemistry demonstrated that astrocytic co-localisation of EAAT1 and EAAT2 may occasionally be seen, but was not widespread in the human CNS and that in general astrocytes were positive for either EAAT1 or EAAT2. These results demonstrate that the EAAT1 has a widespread abundance throughout all regions of the human CNS examined and that there exist discrete populations of astrocytes that are positive solely for either EAAT1 or EAAT2. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that altered EAAT1 expression in motor neurone disease follows a different pattern to the reported changes of EAAT2 expression in this condition, indicating that the role of glutamate transporters in the pathogenesis of motor neurone disease appears more complex than previously appreciated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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