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Neurosci Lett. 2007 May 29;419(2):119-24. Epub 2007 May 4.

Fluorescence imaging study of extracellular zinc at the hippocampal mossy fiber synapse.

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Department of Biomedical Science, Program in Biological Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA.


Although synaptically released, vesicular Zn(2+) has been proposed to play a neuromodulatory or neuronal signaling role at the mossy fiber-CA3 synapse, Zn(2+) release remains controversial, especially when detected using fluorescent imaging. In the present study, we investigated synaptically released Zn(2+) at the mossy fiber (MF) synapse in rat hippocampal slices using three chemically distinct, fluorescent Zn(2+) indicators. The indicators employed for this study were cell membrane impermeable (or extracellular) Newport Green [K(DZn2+) approximatelly 1 microM] , Zinpyr-4 K(DZn2+) approximately 1 nM and FluoZin-3 K(DZn2+) approximately 15 nM, chosen, in part, for their distinct dissociation constants. Among the three indicators, FluoZin-3 was also sensitive to Ca(2+) K(DCa2+) approximately 200-300 microM which was present in the extracellular medium ([Ca(2+)](o)>2mM). Hippocampal slices loaded with either Newport Green or FluoZin-3 showed increases in fluorescence after electrical stimulation of the mossy fiber pathway. These results are consistent with previous studies suggesting the presence of synaptically released Zn(2+) in the extracellular space during neuronal activities; however, the rise in FluoZin-3 fluorescence observed was complicated by the data that the addition of exogenous Zn(2+) onto FluoZin-3 loaded slices gave little change in fluorescence. In the slices loaded with the high-affinity indicator Zinpyr-4, there was little change in fluorescence after mossy fiber activation by electrical stimulation. Further study revealed that the sensitivity of Zinpyr-4 was mitigated by saturation with Zn(2+) contamination from the slice. These data suggest that the sensitivity and selectivity of a probe may affect individual outcomes in a given experimental system.

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