Amygdalofugal axon terminals immunoreactive for L-aspartate or L-glutamate in the nucleus accumbens of rats and domestic chickens: a comparative electron microscopic immunocytochemical study combined with anterograde pathway tracing

Cell Tissue Res. 2012 Dec;350(3):409-23. doi: 10.1007/s00441-012-1494-5. Epub 2012 Oct 13.


Several studies have shown that L-aspartate (Asp) is present in synaptic vesicles and released exocytotically from presynaptic terminals, possibly by Ca(2+)-dependent corelease of Asp and L-glutamate (Glu). It has been demonstrated that both excitatory amino acids (EAAs) are released from the rat striatum as part of corticostriatal neurotransmission. The single or colocalized occurrence of Asp and Glu in specific synaptic boutons of the chicken medial striatum/nucl. accumbens has been demonstrated by our group using ultrastructural immunocytochemistry. However, evidence for the presence of EAAs in any specific striatal pathway was only circumstantial. Here, we report on the distribution of Asp and Glu in specific synaptic terminals of the amygdalostriatal pathway, both in rat and chicken brains, combining anterograde tracing with postembedding immunogold labeling of Asp or Glu. Immunoreactivity for Asp and Glu was observed in amygdalofugal terminals with asymmetrical synaptic junctions (morphologically representing excitatory synapses) in both species. The postsynaptic targets were either dendritic spines or small dendrites, whereas axosomatic or axo-axonic connections were not observed. Ultrastructurally, the synaptic terminals immunoreactive for Asp were indistinguishable from those immunoreactive for Glu. The findigs are consistent with an Asp-Glu corelease mechanism, with a distinct synaptic contingent, evolutionarily conserved in the amygdalostriatal pathway.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Amygdala / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism*
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Chickens
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid