Group II metabotropic glutamate receptors are differentially expressed in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body in the developing and adult rat.

PMID 11377849


The existence of a neuronal-glial signalling through the activation of neurotransmitter receptors expressed in glia is well-documented. In excitatory synapses, glutamate released from presynaptic terminals activates not only postsynaptic receptors, but also ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors localized in the glia ensheathing the synapses. The medial nucleus of the trapezoid body of the auditory system is involved in the localization of sounds in the space. In this nucleus, the large excitatory synaptic terminals formed by the calyces of Held on the principal globular cell bodies are wrapped by astrocytic processes. Since these synapses are functional from early postnatal days, glia receiving excitatory synaptic signals from the calyces may participate in modulating the maturation and development of the system. Groups I and II of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) have been localized in glial cells in different brain regions. To investigate whether group II mGluRs are present in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, we have studied the pattern of expression of mGluR2/3 in the developing and mature nucleus by means of immunocytochemichal methods. The most remarkable finding was the switch in the occurrence of mGluR2/3 from glial to neuronal compartments. Thus, a preferential localization of mGluR2/3 immunoreactivity was observed in astrocytic processes surrounding the calyces of Held during the early postnatal development. In contrast, the main feature in adult rats was the presence of the group II mGluRs in presynaptic calyces of Held and postsynaptic principal globular cells.From these observations we suggest a role for group II mGluRs in neuronal-glial signalling in the calyx of Held-principal globular neuron synapses. Activation of these receptors might be relevant to the maturation and modulation of synaptic transmission in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body.

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