In this report we present immunocytochemical and in situ hybridization evidence that magnocellular vasopressin and oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei express type-2 vesicular glutamate transporter, a marker for their glutamatergic neuronal phenotype. To address the issue of whether an increase in magnocellular neuron activity coincides with the altered synthesis of the endogenous glutamate marker, we have introduced a new dual-label in situ hybridization method which combines fluorescent and autoradiographic signal detection components for vasopressin and vesicular glutamate transporter-2 mRNAs, respectively. Application of this technique provided evidence that 2% sodium chloride in the drinking water for 7 days produced a robust and significant increase of vesicular glutamate transporter-2 mRNA in vasopressin neurons of the supraoptic nucleus. The immunocytochemical labeling of pituitary sections, followed by the densitometric analysis of vesicular glutamate transporter-2 immunoreactivity in the posterior pituitary, revealed a concomitant increase in vesicular glutamate transporter-2 protein levels at the major termination site of the magnocellular axons. These data demonstrate that magnocellular oxytocin as well as vasopressin cells contain the glutamatergic marker vesicular glutamate transporter-2, similarly to most of the parvicellular neurosecretory neurons examined so far. The robust increase in vesicular glutamate transporter-2 mRNA and immunoreactivity after salt loading suggests that the cellular levels of vesicular glutamate transporter-2 in vasopressin neurons are regulated by alterations in water-electrolyte balance. In addition to the known synaptic actions of excitatory amino acids in magnocellular nuclei, the new observations suggest novel mechanisms whereby glutamate of endogenous sources can regulate magnocellular neuronal functions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology