Differential expression of AMPA receptor subunits in dopamine neurons of the rat brain: a double immunocytochemical study

L W Chen, L C Wei, B Lang, G Ju, Y S Chan

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23 Citations (Scopus)


We have examined the distribution of dopamine neurons expressing alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA) receptor subunits (glutamate receptors 1, 2/3 and 4) in the A8-A15 regions of the rat brain using double immunofluorescence. The distribution of glutamate receptor 1- or 2/3-like immunoreactive neurons completely overlapped that of tyrosine hydroxylase-like immunoreactive neurons in dopamine cell groups in the retrorubral field (A8), the substantia nigra (A9), the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus raphe linealis (A10), and the rostral hypothalamic periventricular nucleus (A14, A15). In the caudal hypothalamic periventricular nucleus (A11), arcuate nucleus (A12) and zona incerta (A13), the distribution was partially overlapping. Neurons double-labeled for tyrosine hydroxylase and glutamate receptor 1 or 2/3 immunoreactivities were, however, exclusively found in certain dopamine cell regions: in areas A14-A15, 85-88% of tyrosine hydroxylase-containing neurons expressed glutamate receptor 1 and 22-25% expressed glutamate receptor 2/3, while in areas A8-A10, 20-43% expressed glutamate receptor 1 and 63-84% expressed glutamate receptor 2/3. In contrast, the double-labeled neurons were hardly detected in the A11-A13 regions. No tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons displayed glutamate receptor 4 immunoreactivity, though a partially overlapping distribution of tyrosine hydroxylase- and glutamate receptor 4-immunopositive neurons was also seen in regions A8-10, A11 and A13. The present study has demonstrated the morphological evidence for direct modulation of dopamine neurons via AMPA receptors in rat mesencephalon and hypothalamus. This distribution may provide the basis for a selective dopamine neuron loss in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-60
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Cell Count
  • Diencephalon
  • Dopamine
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon
  • Neurons
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase


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