Localization of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors in distinct neuronal elements of the rat substantia nigra

Kin Lam YUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The localization of glutamate receptors in the substantia nigra is of critical importance since glutamate receptor-mediated excitotoxicity is implied in the cause for the neuronal degeneration in Parkinson's disease. The major glutamatergic synaptic inputs to the substantia nigra originate in the subthalamic nucleus, in which hyperactivity is reported in Parkinson's disease. In order to compare directly the localization of different ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors in the substantia nigra of the same animals, rats were perfuse-fixed under deep anesthesia. Sections of the substantia nigra were obtained and receptor immunocytochemistry was performed using commercially available antibodies (against subunits of ionotropic glutamate receptors: GluR1, GluR2/3, GluR4, NMDAR1, NMDAR2A/B; and subtypes of metabotropic glutamate receptors: mGluR1α, mGluR2/3). When compared to the localization of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity, immunoreactivity for GluR1, GluR2/3 and NMDAR1 was mainly localized in the perikarya and proximal dendrites of the compacta neurons and only in a few reticulata neurons. In contrast, GluR4 immunoreactivity was only detected in the reticulata neurons. Consistent results were obtained by double labeling experiments that revealed tyrosine hydroxylase and GluR1, GluR2/3, GluR4 or NMDAR1 immunoreactivity in the same sections. Immunoreactivity for NMDAR2A/B, mGluR1α and mGluR2/3 was detected in the neuropil of the substantia nigra pars reticulata. No NMDAR2A/B- and mGluR2/3-immunoreactive perikarya were detected. However, a few neurons in the reticulata were found to be mGluR1α- immunoreactive. The present results indicate there is a differential localization of different subunits and subtypes of glutamate receptors in the substantia nigra and there may be functional implications in different neuronal elements in the substantia nigra in normal and in Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-326
Number of pages14
JournalNeurochemistry International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1998

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • AMPA receptors
  • Basal ganglia
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Light microscopy
  • NMDA receptors


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