Expression of GABA transporters, GAT-1 and GAT-3, in the cerebral cortex and thalamus of the rat during postnatal development.Cell Tissue Res 2003; 313(3):245-57CT
The cellular and subcellular localization of two GABA transporters, GAT-1 and GAT-3, was investigated using immunocytochemical methods in the rat cerebral cortex and thalamus during postnatal development. The distribution of the transporters is compared with that of the neuronal marker GABA, and with that of vimentin and of glial fibrillary acidic protein, which identify immature and mature astrocytes, respectively. Our observations show that the two transporters are already expressed at birth in both brain areas with the same cellular localization as in adult rats, as GAT-1 is present in growth cones and terminals only in the cortex, whereas both transporters are expressed in astrocytes in the cortex and thalamus. The distribution of GAT-1 and GAT-3 undergoes postnatal changes reflecting in general the neurogenetic events of the neocortex and thalamus and, more specifically, the maturation of GABAergic innervation. The adult-like pattern of expression is achieved in the third postnatal week in the cortex and in the second postnatal week in the thalamus. The early expression of GAT-1 in GABAergic terminals confirms previous studies showing the existence of neuronal mechanisms of GABA uptake from the embryonic stages. As for the glial localization, the precocious existence of two astrocytic GABA transporters suggests that they operate through different functional mechanisms from birth, whereas their exclusively glial expression in the thalamus indicates that the astroglia plays a major role in the transport, recycling and metabolism of thalamic GABA.