Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 320, Issue 1, pp 33–50 | Cite as

Developmental pattern of three vesicular glutamate transporters in the rat superior olivary complex

  • Peter Blaesse
  • Sascha Ehrhardt
  • Eckhard Friauf
  • Hans Gerd Nothwang
Regular Article


Vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs) mediate the packaging of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate into synaptic vesicles. Three VGLUT subtypes have been identified so far, which are differentially expressed in the brain. Here, we have investigated the spatiotemporal distribution of the three VGLUTs in the rat superior olivary complex (SOC), a prominent processing center, which receives strong glutamatergic inputs and which lies within the auditory brainstem. Immunoreactivity (ir) against all three VGLUTs was found in the SOC nuclei throughout development (postnatal days P0–P60). It was predominantly seen in axon terminals, although cytoplasmic labeling also occurred. Each transporter displayed a characteristic expression pattern. In the adult SOC, VGLUT1 labeling varied from strong in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, lateral superior olive, and medial superior olive (MSO) to moderate (ventral and lateral nuclei of the trapezoid body) to faint (superior paraolivary nucleus). VGLUT2-ir was moderate to strong throughout the SOC, whereas VGLUT3 was only weakly expressed. These results extend previous reports on co-localization of VGLUTs in the auditory brainstem. As in the adult, specific features were seen during development for all three transporters. Intensity increases and decreases occurred with both VGLUT1 and VGLUT3, whereas VGLUT2-ir remained moderately high throughout development. A striking result was obtained with VGLUT3, which was only transiently expressed in the different SOC nuclei between P0 and P12. A transient occurrence of VGLUT1-immunoreactive terminals on somata of MSO neurons was another striking finding. Our results imply a considerable amount of synaptic reorganization in the glutamatergic inputs to the SOC and suggest differential roles of VGLUTs during maturation and in adulthood.


VGLUT Brain development Auditory brainstem Superior olivary complex Immunohistochemistry Rat (Sprague Dawley) 



We thank Dr. S. El Mestikawy for the generous gift of the VGLUT antibodies and Dr. J.W. Deitmer and G. Neumann for help with the confocal microscope.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Blaesse
    • 1
  • Sascha Ehrhardt
    • 1
  • Eckhard Friauf
    • 1
  • Hans Gerd Nothwang
    • 1
  1. 1.Abteilung Tierphysiologie, Fachbereich BiologieTechnische Universität KaiserslauternDeutschland

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