Glutamate, the dominant excitatory transmitter in neuroendocrine regulation

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Science  30 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4985, pp. 1276-1278
DOI: 10.1126/science.1978759


Glutamate has been found to play an unexpectedly important role in neuroendocrine regulation in the hypothalamus, as revealed in converging experiments with ultrastructural immunocytochemistry, optical physiology with a calcium-sensitive dye, and intracellular electrical recording. There were large amounts of glutamate in boutons making synaptic contact with neuroendocrine neurons in the arcuate, paraventricular, and supraoptic nuclei. Almost all medial hypothalamic neurons responded to glutamate and to the glutamate agonists quisqualate and kainate with a consistent increase in intracellular calcium. In all magnocellular and parvocellular neurons of the paraventricular and arcuate nuclei tested, the non-NMDA (non-N-methyl-D-aspartate) glutamate antagonist CNQX (cyano-2,3-dihydroxy-7-nitroquinoxaline) reduced electrically stimulated and spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic potentials, suggesting that the endogenous neurotransmitter is an excitatory amino acid acting primarily on non-NMDA receptors. These results indicate that glutamate plays a major, widespread role in the control of neuroendocrine neurons.

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