Colocalization of fixative‐modified glutamate and glutaminase but not GAD in rubrospinal neurons

Al J Beitz, Lorelei J. Ecklund

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23 Scopus citations


In an attempt to identify putative neurotransmitters of rubrospinal neurons, immunocytochemical procedures were utilized in combination with retrograde tracing techniques in 15 adult male rats. Following injections of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) or wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to HRP (WGA‐HRP) into the spinal cord, midbrain sections were processed with a combined procedure that allowed visualization of both the retrograde tracer and one or more antigens including glutamate, glutaminase, and glutamatic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Initial colocalization studies demonstrated that glutamatelike and glutaminaselike immunoreactivities were cocontained within the same neurons. Following injections of HRP or WGA‐HRP into the spinal cord approximately 53% of retrogradely labeled neurons contained glutamate immunoreactivity. Triple‐labeling experiments indicated that glutamatelike immunoreactivity was colocalized with glutaminase immunoreactivity in retrogradely labeled rubrospinal neurons. Retrogradely labeled neurons did not contain GAD immunoreactivity. Moreover, triple labeling experiments verified that glutamatelike immunoreactive retrogradely labeled cells did not cocontain GAD immunoreactivity. These studies demonstrate that glutamate and its synthesizing enzyme, glutaminase, are present in some rubrospinal neurons and raise the possibility that a component of the rubrospinal projection may be glutamatergic. GAD, on the other hand, is not present in rubrospinal neurons. This finding supports the hypothesis that GABAergic neurons play a role as interneurons in the red nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 8 1988


  • excitatory amino acids
  • glutamic acid decarboxylase
  • monoclonal antibody
  • red nucleus
  • retrograde transport
  • spinal cord


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