Localization of glutamate, glutaminase, aspartate and aspartate aminotransferase in the rat midbrain periaqueductal gray

J. R. Clements, J. E. Madl, R. L. Johnson, A. A. Larson, A. J. Beitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Glutamate and aspartate are putative excitatory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. The present study utilized novel monoclonal antibodies against fixative-modified glutamate and aspartate and polyclonal antisera against the amino acid synthesizing enzymes, glutaminase and aspartate aminotransferase, to analyze the distribution of these amino acids in the rodent midbrain periaqueductal gray. Glutamate-, aspartate-, glutaminase- and aspartate aminotransferase-like immunoreactive neurons, fibers and processes are present throughout the rostrocaudal length of the periaqueductal gray. Glutamate- and glutaminase-like immunoreactive neurons displayed a similar homogeneous pattern of distribution, being localized predominantly to the lateral and dorsal subdivisions of the periaqueductal gray. Co-localization experiments suggest that glutamate and glutaminase are in fact co-contained within the same PAG neurons. Aspartate aminotransferase-like immunoreactive neurons were distributed in a pattern similar to glutamate and glutaminase with the exception that fewer cells were stained in the dorsocaudal and the rostral third of the PAG. Aspartate-like immunoreactive neurons were less numerous than glutamate-like immunoreactive cells and were located in the lateral aspect of the PAG. These results demonstrate a specific and distinct distribution of glutamate and aspartate immunoreactive neurons and support recent data suggesting that glutamate and aspartate serve as excitatory neurotransmitters in the PAG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-602
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1987


  • Aspartate
  • Central nervous system
  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glutamate
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Periaqueductal gray


Dive into the research topics of 'Localization of glutamate, glutaminase, aspartate and aspartate aminotransferase in the rat midbrain periaqueductal gray'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this