Changes in D-serine levels and localization during postnatal development of the rat vestibular nuclei

J Comp Neurol. 2006 Aug 1;497(4):610-21. doi: 10.1002/cne.21016.


The patterns of development of the vestibular nuclei (VN) and their main connections involving glutamate neurotransmission offer a good model for studying the function of the glial-derived neuromodulator D-serine in synaptic plasticity. In this study we show that D-serine is present in the VN and we analyzed its distribution and the levels of expression of serine racemase and D-amino acid oxidase (D-AAO) at different stages of postnatal (P) development. From birth to P21, high levels of D-serine were detected in glial cells and processes in all parts of the VN. This period corresponded to high expression of serine racemase and low expression of D-AAO. On the other hand, in the mature VN D-serine displayed very low levels and was mainly localized in neuronal cell bodies and dendrites. This drop of D-serine in adult stages corresponded to an increasing expression of D-AAO at mature stages. High levels of glial D-serine during the first 3 weeks of postnatal development correspond to an intense period of plasticity and synaptogenesis and maturation of VN afferents, suggesting that D-serine could be involved in these phenomena. These results demonstrate for the first time that changes in D-serine levels and distribution occur during postnatal development in the central nervous system. The strong decrease of D-serine levels and the glial-to-neuronal switch suggests that D-serine may have distinct functional roles depending on the developmental stage of the vestibular network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / cytology
  • Afferent Pathways / growth & development
  • Afferent Pathways / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • D-Amino-Acid Oxidase / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Racemases and Epimerases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serine / metabolism*
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Vestibular Nuclei / cytology
  • Vestibular Nuclei / growth & development*
  • Vestibular Nuclei / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Serine
  • D-Amino-Acid Oxidase
  • Racemases and Epimerases
  • serine racemase