Evidence for vesicular glutamate transporter synapses onto gonadotropin-releasing hormone and other neurons in the rat medial preoptic area

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The medial preoptic area is a key structure in the control of reproduction. Several data suggest that excitatory amino acids are involved in the regulation of this function and the major site of this action is the medial preoptic region. Data concerning the neuromorphology of the glutamatergic innervation of the medial preoptic area are fragmentary. The present investigations were focused on: (i) the morphology of the vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGluT1)- and vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2)-immunoreactive nerve terminals, which are considered to be specific to presumed glutamatergic neuronal elements, in the medial preoptic area of rat; and (ii) the relationship between these glutamate transporter-positive endings and the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in the region. Single- and double-label immunocytochemistry was used at the light and electron microscopic level. There was a weak to moderate density of VGluT1 - and a moderate to intense density of VGluT2-immunoreactive elements in the medial preoptic area. Electron microscopy revealed that both VGluT1- and VGluT2-immunoreactive boutons made asymmetric type synaptic contacts with unlabelled neurons. VGluT2-labelled, but not VGluT1-labelled, axon terminals established asymmetric synaptic contacts on GnRH-immunostained neurons, mainly on their dendrites. The present findings are the first electron microscopic examinations on the glutamatergic innervation of the rat medial preoptic area. They provide direct neuromorphological evidence for the existence of direct glutamatergic innervation of GnRH and other neurons in the rat medial preoptic area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3267-3278
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2003



  • Asymmetric synapse
  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glutamatergic innervation
  • Morphology
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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