Immunocytochemical distribution of n-acetylaspartylglutamate in the rat forebrain and glutamatergic pathways

Guochuan Tsai, Barbara S. Slusher, Lulu Sim, Joseph T. Coyle

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28 Scopus citations


N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) is an acidic dipeptide found in high concentration throughout the rat central nervous system. NAAG has been proposed as a neurotransmitter/modulator in some excitatory glutamatergic pathways where it is released by a Ca2+-dependent process with neuronal activity. Previous immunocytochemical studies have revealed few neurons exhibiting NAAG-like immunoreactivity (LI) in the forebrain, especially in putative glutamatergic neurons. In this study, we present a detailed map of NAAG-LI in rat forebrain utilizing a modified fixation technique that markedly enhances sensitivity. NAAG-LI is located in most of the putative glutamatergic pathways in the forebrain including pyramidal neurons in motor and sensory cortices and the hippocampal formation. Co-localization of NAAG-LI to cholinergic systems of the forebrain was quite extensive with the exception of the striatal local circuit neurons. A noteworthy feature of NAAG-LI-positive neuronal groups is that they were often configured in hierarchical relationships. For example, the pyramidal neurons of the motor cortex and the motor neurons of the brainstem and and spinal cord expressed NAAG-LI; also, several inter-related components of the limbic system stained for NAAG-LI. Taken together, these findings indicate that NAAG is a neuropeptide localized to subpopulations of neurons throughout forebrain as well as in brainstem and spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-292
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Glutamate Immunocytochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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