Coexpression of vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2, glutamic acid decarboxylase and calretinin in rat entorhinal cortex
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We studied the distribution and coexpression of vesicular glutamate transporters (VGluT1, VGluT2), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and calretinin (CR, calcium-binding protein) in rat entorhinal cortex, using immunofluorescence staining and multichannel confocal laser scanning microscopy. Images were computer processed and subjected to automated 3D object recognition, colocalization analysis and 3D reconstruction. Since the VGluTs (in contrast to CR and GAD) occurred in fibers and axon terminals only, we focused our attention on these neuronal processes. An intense, punctate VGluT1-staining occurred everywhere in the entorhinal cortex. Our computer program resolved these punctae as small 3D objects. Also VGluT2 showed a punctate immunostaining pattern, yet with half the number of 3D objects per tissue volume compared with VGluT1, and with statistically significantly larger 3D objects. Both VGluTs were distributed homogeneously across cortical layers, with in MEA VGluT1 slightly more densely distributed than in LEA. The distribution pattern and the size distribution of GAD 3D objects resembled that of VGluT2. CR-immunopositive fibers were abundant in all cortical layers. In double-stained sections we noted ample colocalization of CR and VGluT2, whereas coexpression of CR and VGluT1 was nearly absent. Also in triple-staining experiments (VGluT2, GAD and CR combined) we noted coexpression of VGluT2 and CR and, in addition, frequent coexpression of GAD and CR. Modest colocalization occurred of VGluT2 and GAD, and incidental colocalization of all three markers. We conclude that the CR-containing axon terminals in the entorhinal cortex belong to at least two subpopulations of CR-neurons: a glutamatergic excitatory and a GABAergic inhibitory.