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Keywords:

  • EAAT1;
  • EAAT2;
  • EAAT3;
  • EAAT4;
  • Immunohistochemistry;
  • Fetal brain

Abstract: In the mature brain, removal of glutamate from the synaptic cleft plays an important role in the maintenance of subtoxic levels of glutamate. This requirement is handled by a family of glutamate transporters, EAAT1, EAAT2, EAAT3, and EAAT4. Due to the involvement of glutamate also in neuronal development, it is believed that glutamate transport plays a role in developmental processes as well. Therefore, we have used immunohistochemical and immunoblot analysis to determine the distribution of the four glutamate transporters during human brain development using human pre- and postnatal brain tissue. Regional analysis showed that each transporter subtype has a unique distribution during development. EAAT2 was the most prominent glutamate transporter subtype and was highly enriched in cortex, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and thalamus in all ages examined. EAAT1 immunoreactivity was lower than that of EAAT2, with predominant localization in cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus, and periventricular region. EAAT3 was located mainly in cortex, basal ganglia, and hippocampus, and EAAT4 was found only in cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellar cortex. The distinct regional distribution of various EAAT subtypes and also the transient expression of specific EAAT subtypes during development suggest multiple functional roles for glutamate transporters in the developing brain.