Glycine transporter 2 (GlyT2) mRNA is exclusively expressed in glycinergic neurons, and is presently considered a reliable marker for glycinergic neuronal somata. In this study, we have performed non-radioactive in situ hybridization to localize GlyT2 mRNA in fixed free-floating sections of cervical (C2 and C6), thoracic (T5), lumbar (L2 and L5) and sacral (S1) segments of the rat spinal cord. The results showed that in all segments the majority of the GlyT2 mRNA labeled (glycinergic) neuronal somata was present in the deep dorsal horn and the intermediate zone (laminae III-VIII), with around 50% (range 43.7-70.9%) in laminae VII&VIII. In contrast, the superficial dorsal horn, the motoneuronal cell groups and the area around the central canal contained only few glycinergic neuronal somata. The density (number of glycinergic neuronal somata per mm2) was also low in these areas, while the highest densities were found in laminae V to VIII. The lateral spinal nucleus and the lateral cervical nucleus also contained a limited number of glycinergic neurons. Our findings showed that the distribution pattern of the glycinergic neuronal somata is similar in all the examined segments. The few differences that were found in the relative laminar distribution between some of the segments, are most likely due to technical reasons. We therefore conclude that the observed distribution pattern of glycinergic neuronal somata is present throughout the spinal cord. Our findings further showed that the non-radioactive in situ hybridization technique for identifying GlyT2 mRNA in fixed free-floating sections is a highly efficient tool for identifying glycinergic neurons in the spinal cord.

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Brain Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hossaini, M., French, P., & Holstege, J. (2007). Distribution of glycinergic neuronal somata in the rat spinal cord. Brain Research, 1142(1), 61–69. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.01.078