Expression of the glycinergic system during the course of embryonic development in the mouse spinal cord and its co-localization with GABA immunoreactivity

J Comp Neurol. 2006 Jun 20;496(6):832-46. doi: 10.1002/cne.20967.


To understand better the role of glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the mouse spinal cord during development, we previously described the ontogeny of GABA. Now, we present the ontogeny of glycine-immunoreactive (Gly-ir) somata and fibers, at brachial and lumbar levels, from embryonic day 11.5 (E11.5) to postnatal day 0 (P0). Spinal Gly-ir somata appeared at E12.5 in the ventral horn, with a higher density at the brachial level. They were intermingled with numerous Gly-ir fibers reaching the border of the marginal zone. By E13.5, at the brachial level, the number of Gly-ir perikarya sharply increased throughout the whole ventral horn, whereas the density of fibers declined in the marginal zone. In the dorsal horn, the first Gly-ir somata were then detected. From E13.5 to E16.5, at the brachial level, the density of Gly-ir cells remained stable in the ventral horn, and after E16.5 it decreased to reach a plateau. In the dorsal horn, the density of Gly-ir cells increased, and after E16.5 it remained stable. At the lumbar level, maximum expression was reached at E16.5 in both the ventral and dorsal horn. Finally, the co-localization of glycine and GABA was analyzed, in the ventral motor area, at E13.5, E15.5, and E17.5. The results showed that, regardless of developmental stage studied, one-third of the stained somata co-expressed GABA and glycine. Our data show that the glycinergic system matures 1 day later than the GABAergic system and follows a parallel spatiotemporal evolution, leading to a larger population of glycine cells in the ventral horn.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Embryonic Development
  • Glycine / biosynthesis*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / growth & development
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine