Vesicular glutamate transporter 3 immunoreactivity is present in cholinergic basal forebrain neurons projecting to the basolateral amygdala in rat

J Comp Neurol. 2006 Oct 10;498(5):690-711. doi: 10.1002/cne.21081.


The basal forebrain (BF) plays a role in behavioral and cortical arousal, attention, learning, and memory. It has been suggested that cholinergic BF neurons co-release glutamate, and some cholinergic BF neurons have been reported to contain vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3). We examined the distribution and projections of BF cholinergic neurons containing VGLUT3, by using dual-label immunofluorescence for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and VGLUT3, in situ hybridization, and retrograde tracing. Neurons immunoreactive (+) or containing mRNAs for both ChAT and VGLUT3 were mainly localized to the ventral pallidum and more caudal BF regions; the co-immunoreactive neurons represented 31% of cholinergic neurons in the ventral pallidum and 5-9% more caudally. Examination of cholinergic axon terminals in known target areas of BF projections indicated that the basolateral amygdaloid nucleus contained numerous terminals co-immunoreactive for ChAT and VGLUT3, whereas sampled areas of the olfactory bulb, neocortex, hippocampus, reticular thalamic nucleus, and interpeduncular nucleus were devoid of double-labeled terminals. The basolateral amygdala is innervated by cholinergic BF neurons lacking low-affinity p75 nerve growth factor receptors; many ChAT+VGLUT3+ BF neurons were immunonegative to this receptor. Twenty-five to 79% of ChAT+VGLUT3+ neurons in different BF regions were retrogradely labeled from the basolateral amygdala, up to 52% (ventral pallidum) of the retrogradely labeled ChAT+ neurons were VGLUT3+, and the largest number of amygdala-projecting ChAT+VGluT3+ neurons was found in the ventral pallidum. These findings indicate that BF cholinergic neurons containing VGLUT3 project to the basolateral amygdala and suggest that these neurons might have the capacity to release both acetylcholine and glutamate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / physiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Prosencephalon / cytology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Stilbamidines / metabolism
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • 2-hydroxy-4,4'-diamidinostilbene, methanesulfonate salt
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Slc17a8 protein, rat
  • Stilbamidines
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Proteins
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase