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Neuroscience. 2008 Jun 12;154(1):226-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.03.036. Epub 2008 Mar 22.

Immunolocalization of vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 in the rat inferior colliculus.

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Kresge Hearing Research Institute, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan, 1150 West Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5616, USA.


The inferior colliculus is a major relay nucleus in the ascending auditory pathways that receives multiple glutamatergic inputs. Vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 (VGLUT1, VGLUT2) most often have complementary non-overlapping distributions and can be used to differentiate glutamatergic inputs. The present study therefore examined co-immunolabeling of VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 in three divisions of the rat inferior colliculus. Additional co-immunolabeling of microtubule-associated protein 2 and neuronal class III beta-tubulin provided visualization of neuronal soma and processes and allowed identification of axo-somatic versus axo-dendritic contacts. Results showed numerous VGLUT1 and 2 immunolabeled terminals in the central nucleus, lateral cortex and dorsal cortex. In all three divisions there was little to no co-containment of the two vesicular glutamate transporters indicating a complementary distribution. VGLUT1 made predominantly axo-dendritic connections in the neuropil, while VGLUT2 had many axo-somatic contacts in addition to axo-dendritic contacts. VGLUT2 immunolabeled terminals were numerous on the soma and proximal dendrites of many medium-to-large and large neurons in the central nucleus and medium to large neurons in the dorsal cortex. There were more VGLUT2 terminals than VGLUT1 in all divisions and more VGLUT2 terminals in dorsal and lateral cortices than in the central nucleus. This study shows that VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 differentiate complementary patterns of glutamatergic inputs into the central nucleus, lateral and dorsal cortex of the inferior colliculus with VGLUT1 endings predominantly on the dendrites and VGLUT2 on both dendrites and somas.

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