Expression of P2X7 receptor immunoreactivity in distinct subsets of synaptic terminals in the ventral horn of rat lumbar spinal cord

Brain Res. 2004 Sep 10;1020(1-2):53-61. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2004.06.014.


Adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) may regulate neurotransmission in the CNS by activating presynaptic and/or postsynaptic P2X (P2X1-P2X7) ionotropic receptors. P2X7 purinergic receptors have been shown to modulate transmitter release at excitatory synapses in the hippocampus and have been localized in glutamatergic terminals in several CNS regions. Here, we analyze P2X7-immunoreactivity (IR) in a variety of immunohistochemically identified excitatory and inhibitory presynaptic terminals in the spinal cord ventral horn, including cholinergic C-terminals and motor axon collaterals and glutamatergic terminals that express VGLUT1- or VGLUT2-IR. Whereas there is widespread colocalization of P2X7-IR and VGLUT2-IR ( approximately 94%), there is little colocalization (< or =15%) with VGLUT1, monoaminergic or inhibitory terminals. Furthermore, although P2X7-IR is present in motor axon terminals at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), only about 32% of the presumed motor axon terminals in the ventral horn exhibit P2X7-IR; in contrast, almost all large cholinergic C-terminals contacting motoneurons (91%) express P2X7-IR. The results suggest that distinct populations of synapses involved in spinal cord motor control circuits may be differentially regulated by the activation of P2X7 receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anterior Horn Cells / metabolism*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / classification
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / immunology*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 1
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • P2rx7 protein, rat
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7
  • Slc17a6 protein, rat
  • Slc17a7 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 1
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • Adenosine Triphosphate