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J Neurosci. 2003 Jul 30;23(17):6847-55.

Evidence for chelatable zinc in the extracellular space of the hippocampus, but little evidence for synaptic release of Zn.

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Biological Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Neurosci. 2004 Jan 21;24(3):Table of Contents.


Zinc colocalizes with glutamate in the synaptic vesicles of certain glutamatergic vesicles in the mammalian brain. Here, I introduce a method for detecting Zn in the extracellular space of brain slices and another method for detecting the passage of Zn out of the slice. In both cases, the fluorimetric Zn probe FluoZin-3 is used in conjunction with a slow Zn chelator, Ca-EDTA, to reduce background fluorescence. In addition, a new Zn chelator, ethylenediiminodi-2-pentanedioic acid, with little affinity for Ca or Mg is introduced. These tools are then used to show that little Zn (approximately 2 nm) is released during the course of synaptic transmission into the extracellular space. However, when hippocampal slices are subjected to a high potassium stimulus (50 mM) combined with an increase in osmolarity, Zn is externalized in the Timm's-stained areas (approximately 6 nm). This stimulus also leads to even greater Zn elevations in area CA1 that is only weakly stained by the Timm's method. Nevertheless, even under these conditions, little if any Zn makes its way out of the slices. I present evidence for a layer of Zn in the extracellular space that maps onto the Timm's stained region of the hippocampus. This Zn veneer appears to be loosely associated with molecules in the extracellular space and may be the raison d'ĂȘtre for vesicular Zn.

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