Increase in Glutamatergic Terminals in the Striatum Following Dopamine Depletion in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Xuefeng Zheng
  • Ziyun Huang
  • Yaofeng Zhu
  • Bingbing Liu
  • Zhi Chen
  • Tao Chen
  • Linju Jia
  • Yanmei Li
  • Wanlong LeiEmail author
Original Paper


Dopaminergic neuron degeneration is known to give rise to dendrite injury and spine loss of striatal neurons, however, changes of intrastriatal glutamatergic terminals and their synapses after 6-hydroxydopamine (6OHDA)-induced dopamine (DA)-depletion remains controversial. To confirm the effect of striatal DA-depletion on the morphology and protein levels of corticostriatal and thalamostriatal glutamatergic terminals and synapses, immunohistochemistry, immuno-electron microscope (EM), western blotting techniques were performed on Parkinson’s disease rat models in this study. The experimental results of this study showed that: (1) 6OHDA-induced DA-depletion resulted in a remarkable increase of Vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGlut1) + and Vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGlut2)+ terminal densities at both the light microscope (LM) and EM levels, and VGlut1+ and VGlut2+ terminal sizes were shown to be enlarged by immuno-EM; (2) Striatal DA-depletion resulted in a decrease in both the total and axospinous terminal fractions of VGlut1+ terminals, but the axodendritic terminal fraction was not significantly different from the control group. However, total, axospinous and axodendritic terminal fractions for VGlut2+ terminals declined significantly after striatal DA-depletion. (3) Western blotting data showed that striatal DA-depletion up-regulated the expression levels of the VGlut1 and VGlut2 proteins. These results suggest that 6OHDA-induced DA-depletion affects corticostriatal and thalamostriatal glutamatergic synaptic inputs, which are involved in the pathological process of striatal neuron injury induced by DA-depletion.


Vesicular glutamate transporter Parkinson’s disease DA-depletion Striatum Rat 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81471288), and by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFA0104704).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All animal experiments were performed according to the National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals conducted and approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of Sun Yat-sen University.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Zhongshan School of MedicineSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of Medicine, College of MedicineJishou UniversityJishouChina
  3. 3.Department of AnesthesiologyGuangdong Second Provincial General HospitalGuangzhouChina

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