The localization of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) during development has been associated with brain maturation and plasticity. The developmental immunohistochemical analysis of mGluR1alpha, mGluR2/3 and mGluR4a expression was performed in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and basal ganglia at postnatal days (P) 4, 8, 12, 35 and 60. In early stages (P4 and P8) mGluR1alpha-like immunoreactivity (mGluR1alpha-LI) was detected in cell bodies and fibers of the frontal cortex, hippocampus and globus pallidus. At P35 and P60, the staining was observed in pyramidal cells and fibers in the deepest layers of the cortex and in stratum oriens of the hippocampus, while a lower labeling was observed in fibers of the globus pallidus. No immunostaining was observed in substantia nigra pars reticulata until P12, when a dense network of fiber staining was detected through the adult stages (P35, P60). mGluR2/3-LI was present from the second week of development in fibers and cell bodies of the stratum lacunosum moleculare of the CA1-CA3 and striatum; this staining pattern persisted until adult stages. mGluR4a-LI was observed at P12 in neuronal bodies of the cortex, in pyramidal cells of the hippocampus and in neuronal cells of the striatum. At P35 and P60, a strong signal was observed in a reduced number of labeled cells of the cerebral cortex, in fibers of the stratum oriens of CA1 and in long processes of substantia nigra pars reticulata. Our results indicate that there are significant changes in the protein expression of mGluR subunits through postnatal development. These differences may play a significant role in the establishment of proper synaptic circuitry in early postnatal life, as well as contributing to the maintenance, stabilization, and plasticity of the rat forebrain, particularly through the participation of mGluR1alpha and mGluR4a.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel