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Alteration of GABA transporter expression in the rat cerebral cortex following needle puncture and colchicine injection


In the adult cerebral cortex, GABA transporters (GATs) are expressed by both neurons and astrocytes. GAT-1 immunoreactivity is found in axon terminals of GABAergic neurons and astrocytes, while GAT-3 immunolabeling occurs only in the latter. The present study was designed to determine whether the expression of GAT-1 and GAT-3 in the adult rat cerebrum changes after needle lesion and colchicine infusion. Following a needle puncture or a saline injection, immunolabeling for GAT-1 and GAT-3 was slightly increased in an area around the needle track. Not only was the neuropil labeling for both GATs increased, but also a few neuronal somata were found to be immunoreactive for GAT-1. Colchicine injections induced a striking increase in immunolabeling for both GATs in the neuropil in an area adjacent to the needle path and surrounding it. A homologous region of the contralateral hemisphere also showed a moderate increase of immunoreactivity in the neuropil for both GATs. Furthermore, this contralateral site showed many neuronal somata immunolabeled for GAT-1. These changes were mainly detected during the first 5 days following intracortical lesions. These results indicate that (1) the upregulation of GAT-1 and GAT-3 in cortical interneurons and astrocytes is caused by both mechanical and chemical factors associated with the injections; (2) increased GAT-1 and GAT-3 expression contralateral to the site of colchicine injection is mediated by transcellular signaling across the corpus callosum; and (3) the lesion-induced GAT expression may play a protective role by helping to balance excitatory and inhibitory neuronal activities.

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