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Eur J Neurosci. 1996 Jan;8(1):229-33.

Differential localization of AMPA glutamate receptor subunits in the two segments of the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra pars reticulata in the squirrel monkey.

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Centre de Recherche en Neurobiologie, Hôpital de I'Enfant- Jésus and Université laval, Québec, Canada.


The subthalamic nucleus has long been known as the main source of glutamatergic afferents to the pallidum and the substantia nigra in primates. Recent findings showed that the excitatory effects induced by the subthalamic nucleus in pallidal cells are mediated through the activation of non-NMDA receptors in the rat. The objective of the present study was to analyse the distribution of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) glutamate receptor subunits in the external pallidum (GPe), the internal pallidum (GPi) and the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). This was achieved by means of immunohistochemistry using antibodies raised against the GluR1 and the GluR2/3 subunits of the AMPA receptor. Our results show that all neuronal perikarya in GPe and GPi display immunoreactivity for GluR2/3 subunits whereas GluR1 is confined exclusively to cells in the GPe. The proportion of GluR1-immunoreactive neurons is not uniform throughout the rostrocaudal extent of GPe; in the rostral third all GPe cells display GluR1 immunoreactivity, whereas in the caudal third the proportion of GluR1-positive cells decreases to 50%. The intensity of GluR1 immunostaining associated with GPe cells is lower than that associated with neighbouring large-sized neurons in the nucleus basalis of Meynert. In contrast to GPi cells, the neurons in the SNr display immunoreactivity for both GluR1 and GluR2/3 subunits. In conclusion, our results provide the first evidence for a different distribution of the GluR1 subunit of the AMPA receptors in the two segments of the globus pallidus in monkeys. These findings imply that the control of the basal activity of GPe and GPi cells by the subthalamic nucleus is exerted via the activation of AMPA receptors composed of different subunits. These data reinforce the view that the two segments of the globus pallidus are different entities that possess their own functional characteristics in primates.

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