Distribution of vesicular glutamate transporter-2 messenger ribonucleic Acid and protein in the septum-hypothalamus of the rat

Endocrinology. 2003 Feb;144(2):662-70. doi: 10.1210/en.2002-220908.


The excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate is involved in the control of most, perhaps all, neuroendocrine systems, yet the sites of glutamatergic neurons and their processes are unknown. Here, we used in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for the neuron-specific vesicular glutamate transporter-2 (VGLUT2) to identify the neurons in female rats that synthesize the neurotransmitter glutamate as well as their projections throughout the septum-hypothalamus. The results show that glutamatergic neurons are present in the septum-diagonal band complex and throughout the hypothalamus. The preoptic area and ventromedial and dorsomedial nuclei are particularly rich in glutamatergic neurons, followed by the supraoptic, paraventricular, and arcuate nuclei, whereas the suprachiasmatic nucleus does not express detectable amounts of VGLUT2 mRNA. Immunoreactive neurites are seen in very high densities in all regions analyzed, particularly in the preoptic region, followed by the ventromedial, dorsomedial, and arcuate nuclei as well as the external layer of the median eminence, whereas the mammillary complex does not exhibit VGLUT2 immunoreactivity. Many VGLUT2 immunoreactive fibers also contained synaptophysin, suggesting that the transporter is indeed localized to presynaptic terminals. Together, the results identify glutamatergic cell bodies throughout the septum-hypothalamus in region-specific patterns and show that glutamatergic nerve terminals are present in very large numbers such that most neurons in these brain regions can receive glutamatergic input. We examined the GnRH system as an example of a typical neuroendocrine system and could show that the GnRH perikarya are closely apposed by many VGLUT2-immunoreactive boutons, some of which also contained synaptophysin. The presence of VGLUT2 mRNA-containing cells in specific nuclei of the hypothalamus indicates that many neuroendocrine neurons coexpress glutamate as neurotransmitter, in addition to neuropeptides. These systems include the oxytocin, vasopressin, or CRH neurons as well as many others in the periventricular and mediobasal hypothalamus. The presence of VGLUT2 mRNA in steroid-sensitive regions of the hypothalamus, such as the anteroventral periventricular, paraventricular, or ventromedial nuclei indicates that gonadal and adrenal steroid can directly alter the functions of these glutamatergic neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Hypothalamus / chemistry
  • Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Nerve Fibers / chemistry
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Septum of Brain / chemistry
  • Septum of Brain / cytology
  • Septum of Brain / physiology*
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Slc17a6 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins