Presence of the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid R1 glutamatergic receptor subunit in the lumbosacral spinal cord of male rats

Neurosci Lett. 2002 May 3;323(3):224-8. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(02)00143-x.


The lumbosacral spinal cord contains neurones that control the lower urogenital and digestive tracts. Spinal neurones respond to activation from the periphery and supraspinal nuclei. Glutamate, acting through a variety of receptors, is an established transmitter of excitatory pathways to the spinal cord. Using immunohistochemical methods, we reveal the presence of the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid R1 (NMDAR1) glutamatergic receptor subunit in the lumbosacral spinal network that controls urogenital and digestive functions: the dorsal horn; the area around the central canal including the dorsal grey commissure; the sacral parasympathetic nucleus; and pudendal motoneurones. A complete thoracic spinal section did not alter labelling. Using retrograde labelling techniques, we identify sacral preganglionic neurones and pudendal neurones that are NMDAR1 immunoreactive. Glutamate, acting at NMDA receptors, can therefore co-ordinate the activity of the autonomic and somatic outflows to the pelvic organs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Efferent Pathways / cytology
  • Efferent Pathways / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Genitalia / innervation
  • Genitalia / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / metabolism*
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / cytology
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / metabolism
  • Posterior Horn Cells / cytology
  • Posterior Horn Cells / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Rectum / innervation
  • Rectum / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Urinary Bladder / innervation
  • Urinary Bladder / physiology
  • Viscera / innervation*
  • Viscera / physiology


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • NMDA receptor A1
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Glutamic Acid