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Vis Neurosci. 1990 May;4(5):437-43.

Quantitative immunogold analysis reveals high glutamate levels in synaptic terminals of retino-geniculate, cortico-geniculate, and geniculo-cortical axons in the cat.

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Department of Neurophysiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


A postembedding immunogold procedure was used to estimate quantitatively, at the electron-microscopical level, the intensity of glutamate (GLU) immunoreactivity in different identifiable profiles of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and perigeniculate nucleus (PGN) of the cat. Synaptic terminals of retinal and cortical origins in the LGN, and of axon collaterals of geniculo-cortical relay cells in the PGN, were identified by previously determined ultrastructural features. Processes of interneurons or relay cells were identified by being immunoreactive or non-immunoreactive, respectively, in serial thin section reacted with a GABA antibody. The results showed that synaptic terminals of geniculo-cortical relay cells in the PGN have significantly higher levels of GLU immunoreactivity than their parent somata or dendrites in the LGN; this suggests transmitter storage of this amino acid in these terminals. By contrast, synaptic terminals of interneurons did not show enrichment of GLU relative to their parent somata. This argues against the possibility that the relative enrichment of GLU in relay cells terminals is due to factors other than presynaptic storage. In addition, axon collateral terminals of relay cells in the pGN, as well as retinal and cortical terminals in the LGN, showed significantly higher GLU immunoreactivity than GABAergic terminals. These immunocytochemical results suggest that GLU is a neurotransmitter in the retino-geniculate, cortico-geniculate, and geniculo-cortical pathways in the cat.

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