Glutamate transporter expression in astrocytes of the rat dentate gyrus following lesion of the entorhinal cortex


: Professor Dr Peter Kugler, as above.


The glutamate transporters GLT-1 and GLAST localized in astrocytes are essential in limiting transmitter signalling and restricting harmful receptor overstimulation. To show changes in the expression of both transporters following lesion of the entorhinal cortex (and degeneration of the glutamatergic tractus perforans), quantitative microscopic in situ hybridization (ISH) using alkaline-phosphatase-labelled oligonucleotide probes was applied to the outer molecular layer of the hippocampal dentate gyrus of rats (termination field of the tractus perforans). Four groups of rats were studied: sham-operated controls, and animals 3, 14 and 60 days following unilateral electrolytic lesion of the entorhinal cortex. The postlesional shrinkage of the terminal field of the perforant path, ipsilateral to the lesion side, was determined and considered in the evaluation of quantitative ISH data. Statistical analysis revealed that ipsilateral to the lesion side there was a significant decrease of the GLT-1 mRNA at every postlesional time-point and of the GLAST mRNA at 14 and 60 days postlesion. The maximal decrease was ≈ 45% for GLT-1 and ≈ 35% for GLAST. In the terminal field of the perforant path contralateral to the lesion side, no significant changes of ISH labelling were measured. The results were complemented by immunocytochemical data achieved using antibodies against synthetic GLT-1 and GLAST peptides. In accordance with ISH results, there was an obvious decrease of GLT-1 and GLAST immunostaining in the terminal field of the perforant path ipsilateral to the lesion side. From these data we conclude that, following a lesioning of the entorhinal cortex, the loss of glutamatergic synapses in the terminal field of the perforant path resulted in a strong downregulation of glutamate transporters in astrocytes. The decrease of synaptically released glutamate or of other neuronal factors could be involved in this downregulation.