Expression of the vesicular glutamate transporters-1 and -2 in adult mouse dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord and their regulation by nerve injury

Neuroscience. 2007 Jun 29;147(2):469-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.02.068.


The expression of two vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs), VGLUT1 and VGLUT2, was studied with immunohistochemistry in lumbar dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), the lumbar spinal cord and the skin of the adult mouse. About 12% and 65% of the total number of DRG neuron profiles (NPs) expressed VGLUT1 and VGLUT2, respectively. VGLUT1-immunoreactive (IR) NPs were usually medium- to large-sized, in contrast to a majority of small- or medium-sized VGLUT2-IR NPs. Most VGLUT1-IR NPs did not coexpress calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or bound isolectin B4 (IB4). In contrast, approximately 31% and approximately 42% of the VGLUT2-IR DRG NPs were also CGRP-IR or bound IB4, respectively. Conversely, virtually all CGRP-IR and IB4-binding NPs coexpressed VGLUT2. Moderate colocalization between VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 was also observed. Sciatic nerve transection induced a decrease in the overall number of VGLUT1- and VGLUT2-IR NPs (both ipsi- and contralaterally) and, in addition, a parallel, unilateral increase of VGLUT2-like immunoreactivity (LI) in a subpopulation of mostly small NPs. In the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, strong VGLUT1-LI was detected, particularly in deep dorsal horn layers and in the ventral horns. VGLUT2-LI was abundant throughout the gray spinal matter, 'radiating' into/from the white matter. A unilateral dorsal rhizotomy reduced VGLUT1-LI, while apparently leaving unaffected the VGLUT2-LI. Transport through axons for both VGLUTs was confirmed by their accumulation after compression of the sciatic nerve or dorsal roots. In the hind paw skin, abundant VGLUT2-IR nerve fibers were observed, sometimes associated with Merkel cells. Lower numbers of VGLUT1-IR fibers were also detected in the skin. Some VGLUT1-IR and VGLUT2-IR fibers were associated with hair follicles. Based on these data and those by Morris et al. [Morris JL, Konig P, Shimizu T, Jobling P, Gibbins IL (2005) Most peptide-containing sensory neurons lack proteins for exocytotic release and vesicular transport of glutamate. J Comp Neurol 483:1-16], we speculate that virtually all DRG neurons in adult mouse express VGLUTs and use glutamate as transmitter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axotomy
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nerve Crush
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Rhizotomy
  • Sciatic Nerve / injuries
  • Skin / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase / metabolism
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 1 / biosynthesis*
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2 / biosynthesis*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Slc17a6 protein, mouse
  • Slc17a7 protein, mouse
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 1
  • Vesicular Glutamate Transport Protein 2
  • isolectin B4-binding glycoprotein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase
  • Uchl1 protein, mouse