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J Comp Neurol. 1998 Aug 3;397(3):403-20.

Distribution of glutamate receptor subunits at neurochemically characterized synapses in the entopeduncular nucleus and subthalamic nucleus of the rat.

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MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacology, Oxford, England.


Glutamatergic neurotransmission in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and in the output nuclei of the basal ganglia is critical in the expression of basal ganglia function, and increased glutamate transmission in these nuclei has been implicated in the pathology of Parkinson's disease. In order to determine the precise spatial relationship of subunits of the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors to nerve terminals enriched in glutamate or gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in one of the output nuclei, the entopeduncular nucleus (EP), and the STN, postembedding immunolabelling for glutamate receptor subunits and for glutamate and GABA was carried out in the rat. Immunolabelling for the AMPA glutamate receptor subunits 1, 2/3, and 4 (GluR1, GluR2/3, and GluR4) and the NMDA receptor subunit 1 (NR1) was localized predominantly within asymmetrical synapses in both the EP and STN. Quantitative analysis revealed that, on average for the whole population, each of the receptor subunits was evenly distributed along the synaptic specialization. Multiple AMPA receptor subunits and the GluR2/3 and NMDA (NR1) subunits were co-localized within individual synapses. The combination of immunolabelling for glutamate and GABA with the receptor immunolabelling revealed that the majority of axon terminals presynaptic to the receptor-immunoreactive synapses were enriched in glutamate immunoreactivity and were GABA-immunonegative. However, at some NR1- and GluR2/3-positive synapses, the level of glutamate immunoreactivity was low in the presynaptic terminal and, in the STN, some of them were GABA-immunopositive. It is concluded that glutamatergic transmission at individual synapses of different origins in the EP and STN is mediated by a combination ofAMPA and NMDA glutamate receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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