The glutamate immunoreactivity of different cell populations was compared quantitatively in the cerehellar cortex of cat, using an antiserum raised against glutamate coupled to bovine serum albumin by glutaraldehyde. Neuronal and glial processes were identified on serial electron microscopic sections which were processed by a postembedding immunogold procedure. The surface density of colloidal gold particles was used for statistical comparison of the relative levels of glutamate in cell populations, or in different parts of the same population. The terminals of mossy and parallel fibres had significantly higher levels of glutamate immunoreactivity than Golgi cell terminals, granule cell dendritic digits. Purkinje cell dendrites or dendritic spines. Golgi cell terminals were identified by their position and GABA immunoreactivity as revealed by immunogold in serial sections. The dendritic digits of the putative glutamatergic granule cells had significantly higher glutamate immunoreactivity than did Purkinje cell dendrites and dendritic spines. Glial cell processes in the molecular layer had lower level of glutamate immunoreactivity than any of the neuronal processes. The results demonstrate that the highest levels of glutamate immunoreactivity occur in mossy and parallel fibre presynaptic terminals that are known to have an excitatory effect. This supports previous suggestions that glutamate may be a transmitter at these synapses. The measurement of the levels of putative amino acid transmitters in identified neuronal populations, or in different parts of the same population, could have wide applications in studies on the chemical neuroanatomy of the nervous system.
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