Cellular expression of ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits on specific striatal neuron types and its implication for striatal vulnerability in glutamate receptor-mediated excitotoxicity

Neuroscience. 1996 Aug;73(3):715-31. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(96)00011-5.


Glutamate receptors are composed of subtype-specific subunits. Variation in the precise subunit composition of a receptor may result in significant functional differences. Thus, a precise knowledge of subunit composition on striatal neurons is a prerequisite for understanding the selective vulnerability of striatal neurons to excitatory amino acids. In the present study, we used an immunohistochemical double-labelling approach to localize ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits (NMDAR1, GluR1, GluR2/3, GluR4 and GluR5/6/7) on specific striatal neuron populations. Our results showed that striatal cholinergic and somatostatin interneurons were not labelled for the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate, receptor subunits GluR1, GluR2/3 and GluR4. Most cholinergic and somatostatin interneurons (83.3% to 100%), however, were double-labelled for the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit NR1 and kainic acid receptor subunits GluR5/6/7. All parvalbumin interneurons were labelled for GluR1 and GluR4, and 96% GluR1 positive and 95% GluR4 positive neurons were also double-labelled as parvalbumin interneurons. About half of all parvalbumin interneurons co-localized with GluR2/3, and over 97% were labelled for NR1 and GluR5/6/7. Among striatal projection neurons, enkephalin-positive (mainly striatopallidal) neurons, striatonigral neurons (mainly substance P-positive) and calbindin-positive matrix neurons were not immunostained for GluR1 or GluR4. In contrast, 95% to 100% of each of these types of projection neurons were double-labelled for NR1, GluR2/3 and GluR5/6/7. Our results demonstrate that striatal neuron types differ in their expression of ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits and subtypes. The clear difference between striatal interneurons and projection neurons in ionotropic glutamate receptor subtypes/subunits supports the idea that differential glutamate receptor expression mechanism may account for the selective vulnerability of striatal projection neurons to excitotoxicity, and that glutamate receptor-mediated excitotoxicity may be involved in the striatal neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glutamate / classification
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*


  • Neurotoxins
  • Receptors, Glutamate