Immunocytochemistry of neurotransmitter receptors

J Electron Microsc Tech. 1990 May;15(1):81-96. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1060150108.


Over the last several years our knowledge of neurotransmitter receptors has increased dramatically as receptor types and subtypes have been identified through the development of selective antagonists, neuropharmacological studies, and radioactive ligand binding studies. At the same time major advances were made in the immunocytochemical localization of neurotransmitters and their related enzymes. However, only recently has immunocytochemistry been used to localize neurotransmitter receptors, and these studies have been limited. Four receptors have been localized in the CNS with immunocytochemistry: the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, the beta-adrenergic receptor, the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor, and the glycine receptor. Of these the glycine receptor has been the most thoroughly characterized. Glycine receptor immunoreactivity is highly concentrated at postsynaptic sites, and the distribution of immunoreactivity appears to correlate closely with glycinergic neurons. However, immunocytochemical studies done on other receptors suggest such a distribution may not always be the case. Some receptors may not be concentrated at postsynaptic sites, and receptor distribution may not always closely fit the distribution of the respective neurotransmitter. Work is rapidly progressing on the purification of other receptors and on the production of selective antibodies which will allow immunocytochemical studies which address these and other questions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Central Nervous System / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / immunology
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / analysis*
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / immunology
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / analysis*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Receptors, Nicotinic