Distribution and colocalisation of glutamate decarboxylase isoforms in the rat spinal cord

Neuroscience. 2003;119(2):461-72. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00174-x.


The inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA is synthesized by glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and two isoforms of this enzyme exist: GAD65 and GAD67. Immunocytochemical studies of the spinal cord have shown that whilst both are present in the dorsal horn, GAD67 is the predominant form in the ventral horn. The present study was carried out to determine the pattern of coexistence of the two GAD isoforms in axonal boutons in different laminae of the cord, and also to examine the relation of the GADs to the glycine transporter GLYT2 (a marker for glycinergic axons), since many spinal neurons are thought to use GABA and glycine as co-transmitters. Virtually all GAD-immunoreactive boutons throughout the spinal grey matter were labelled by both GAD65 and GAD67 antibodies; however, the relative intensity of staining with the two antibodies varied considerably. In the ventral horn, most immunoreactive boutons showed much stronger labelling with the GAD67 antibody, and many of these were also GLYT2 immunoreactive. However, clusters of boutons with high levels of GAD65 immunoreactivity were observed in the motor nuclei, and these were not labelled with the GLYT2 antibody. In the dorsal horn, some GAD-immunoreactive boutons had relatively high levels of labelling with either GAD65 or GAD67 antibody, whilst others showed a similar degree of labelling with both antibodies. GLYT2 immunoreactivity was associated with many GAD-immunoreactive boutons; however, this did not appear to be related to the pattern of GAD expression. It has recently been reported that there is selective depletion of GAD65, accompanied by a loss of GABAergic inhibition, in the ipsilateral dorsal horn in rats that have undergone peripheral nerve injuries [J Neurosci 22 (2002) 6724]. Our finding that some boutons in the superficial laminae showed relatively high levels of GAD65 and low levels of GAD67 immunoreactivity is therefore significant, since a reduction in GABA synthesis in these axons may contribute to neuropathic pain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral / immunology
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism*
  • Glycine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / enzymology*


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral
  • Glycine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Slc6a5 protein, rat
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1
  • glutamate decarboxylase 2