Changes in D-serine levels and localization during postnatal development of the rat vestibular nuclei.
J. Comp. Neurol.. 2006-01-01; 497(4): 610-621
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The patterns of development of the vestibular nuclei (VN) and their main connections involving glutamate neurotransmission offer a good model for studying the function of the glial-derived neuromodulator D-serine in synaptic plasticity. In this study we show that D-serine is present in the VN and we analyzed its distribution and the levels of expression of serine racemase and D-amino acid oxidase (D-AAO) at different stages of postnatal (P) development. From birth to P21, high levels of D-serine were detected in glial cells and processes in all parts of the VN. This period corresponded to high expression of serine racemase and low expression of D-AAO. On the other hand, in the mature VN D-serine displayed very low levels and was mainly localized in neuronal cell bodies and dendrites. This drop of D-serine in adult stages corresponded to an increasing expression of D-AAO at mature stages. High levels of glial D-serine during the first 3 weeks of postnatal development correspond to an intense period of plasticity and synaptogenesis and maturation of VN afferents, suggesting that D-serine could be involved in these phenomena. These results demonstrate for the first time that changes in D-serine levels and distribution occur during postnatal development in the central nervous system. The strong decrease of D-serine levels and the glial-to-neuronal switch suggests that D-serine may have distinct functional roles depending on the developmental stage of the vestibular network.