The distribution of glycine-immunoreactive (glycine-IR) neurons and their associated axon terminals in the rat cuneate nucleus was studied using antiglycine postembedding immunoperoxidase labelling and immunogold staining, respectively. The immunoperoxidase-labelled glycine-IR neurons were widely distributed in the entire rostrocaudal extent of the nucleus. They made up 30.8% (9671/31368) of the neurons surveyed. Quantitative evaluation showed that the percentage of glycine-IR neurons in the caudal level was significantly higher than that in the middle and rostral levels. The glycine-IR neurons were small cells (mean area = 198 ± 1.9 μm 2, n = 2862) with ovoid or spindle-shaped somata. Statistical analysis showed that the size of the glycine-IR neurons in the rostral level was significantly smaller than that in the middle and caudal levels. Immunogold labelled glycine-IR terminals which contained predominantly pleomorphic synaptic vesicles were mostly small (mean area = 1.24 ± 0.03 μm 2, n = 286) and they constituted 24.7% (286/1158) of the total terminals surveyed. They formed axodendritic, axosomatic and axoaxonic synapses with unlabelled elements. It is suggested from this study that glycine is one of the major neurotransmitters involved in the depression of synaptic transmission in the cuneate nucleus.
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