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Hippocampus. 2004;14(8):975-85.

Developmental expression of glutamate transporters and glutamate dehydrogenase in astrocytes of the postnatal rat hippocampus.

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Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Glutamate is the major excitatory transmitter in the CNS and plays distinct roles in a number of developmental events. Its extracellular concentration, which mediates these activities, is regulated by glutamate transporters in glial cells and neurons. In the present study, we have used nonradioactive in situ hybridization, immunocytochemistry, and immunoblotting to show the cellular and regional expression of the high-affinity glutamate transporters GLAST (EAAT1) and generic GLT1 (EAAT2; glial form of GLT1) in the rat hippocampus during postnatal development (P1-60). The results of transporter expression were compared with the localization and activity pattern of glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), an important glutamate-metabolizing enzyme. The study showed that both transporters and GDH were demonstrable at P1 (day of birth). The expression of GLAST (detected by in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry) in the early postnatal development was higher than GLT1. Thereafter, the expression of both transporters increased, showing adult levels at between P20 and P30 (detected by in situ hybridization and immunoblotting). At these time points, the expression of GLT1 appeared to be significantly higher than the GLAST expression. GLT1 and GLAST proteins were demonstrable only in astrocytes. The increase of GDH activities (steepest increase from P5-P8), which were localized preferentially in astrocytes, was in agreement with the increase of transporter expression, preferentially with that of GLT1. These observations suggest that the extent of glutamate transporter expression and of glutamate-metabolizing GDH activity in astrocytes is intimately correlated with the formation of glutamatergic synapses in the developing hippocampus.

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