Synaptic relationships between neurons containing vasopressin, gastrin-releasing peptide, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, and glutamate decarboxylase immunoreactivity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus: dual ultrastructural immunocytochemistry with gold-substituted silver peroxidase

J Comp Neurol. 1986 Oct 22;252(4):507-21. doi: 10.1002/cne.902520407.


In order to examine the morphological substrates for neuronal connections between cells of the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that contain immunoreactivity for different neurotransmitters, a double ultrastructural immunocytochemical analysis was used. For double immunostaining, the first neuroactive substance antigen was labeled with gold-substituted silver-intensified peroxidase (GSSP), which results in a granular gold deposit of high electron and light opacity. The second antigen was labeled with peroxidase and a diaminobenzidine chromagen. The GSSP reaction product greatly increased the visibility of immunoreactive structures, with both light and electron microscopy. Intensification with the GSSP method worked at all depths of thick tissue sections as determined with analysis of immunostained sections cut perpendicular to their flat surface, and with analysis of thick 80-micron sections of brain tissue into which horseradish peroxidase (HRP) has been microinjected. On a nitrocellulose dot-blot comparison of different substrates for HRP, the GSSP intensification compared favorably with tetramethylbenzidine, but unlike tetramethylbenzidine, the GSSP was stable in a wide range of buffers. In addition to diaminobenzidine, the GSSP reaction was used to intensify and stabilize both the Hanker-Yates reagent and tetramethylbenzidine on the nitrocellulose model system. Through the use of the GSSP reaction, five new synaptic relationships in the suprachiasmatic nucleus were revealed. By increasing the sensitivity of the peroxidase method by silver-gold intensification, immunoreaction product could be found in dendrites at a greater distance from the perikaryon than in nonintensified material. Because of this greater sensitivity, the neuroactive substance contained in the cell of origin of a dendrite could sometimes be identified. Boutons immunoreactive for vasopressin-associated neurophysin were found to make synaptic contact with postsynaptic dendrites that also contained vasopressin-neurophysin immunoreactivity. Similarly, boutons containing gastrin-releasing peptide immunoreactivity made synaptic contact with cells also exhibiting gastrin-releasing peptide immunoreactivity. Neurons stained with GSSP reaction product could be easily discriminated from those containing only HRP-precipitated diaminobenzidine, allowing the simultaneous use of these two markers in the same 30-micron tissue section and subsequently in ultrathin sections for electron microscopy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism*
  • Vasopressins / metabolism*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Peptides
  • Vasopressins
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase