The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is an important brain region for motivation, reinforcement, and reward. Afferents to the NAc can be divided into two anatomically segregated neurochemical phenotypes: dopaminergic inputs, primarily from the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA) and glutamatergic inputs from several cortical and sub-cortical structures. A population of glutamatergic neurons exists within the VTA and evidence from rats and mice suggests that these VTA axons may co-release dopamine and glutamate into the NAc. Our laboratory has used sexual experience in Syrian hamsters as a model of experience-dependent plasticity within the NAc. Given that both dopamine and glutamate are involved in this plasticity, it is important to determine whether these neurotransmitters are co-expressed within the mesolimbic pathway of hamsters. We therefore used immunofluorescent staining to investigate the possible co-localization of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a dopaminergic marker, and vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2), a glutamatergic marker, within the mesolimbic pathway. PCR analyses identified VGLUT2 gene expression in the VTA. No co-localization of TH and VGLUT2 protein was detected in NAc fibers, nor was there a difference in immunolabeling between males and females. Further studies are needed to resolve this absence of anatomical co-localization of TH and VGLUT2 in hamster striatal afferents with reports of functional co-release in other rodents.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research in this publication was supported by DA013680 to RLM. LEB and NAS were supported by NIDA under award number T32DA007234 and AT was supported by NSF grant under award number IOS1232908. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
- Caudate putamen
- Ventral tegmental area