We are interested in cellular co-expression patterns of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) receptor subunits 1–4 (GluR1–4) in substance P receptor (SPR)-containing neurons of the basal forebrain, which may act as a morphological basis for interaction between neurokinins and glutamate-driven neuronal signaling and excitotoxicity. Immunohistochemistry and laser scanning confocal microscopy in adult C57/BL mice revealed that distribution of SPR-positive neurons overlapped with that of GluR1–4-containing ones in most basal forebrain regions, i.e. the medial septal nucleus, nucleus of diagonal band of Broca, magnocellular preoptic nucleus and substantia innominata. Neurons showing both SPR and GluR1–4-immunoreactivities were found in above cholinergic neurons-rich containing basal forebrain regions. Semi-quantification analysis indicated that about 57–95% of SPR-positive neurons displayed GluR1–4-immunoreactivity. The percentages of AMPA receptor subunits co-localizing in SPR-positive neurons were GluR4 (48%), GluR1 (47%), GluR2 (26%) and GluR3 (20%), respectively. However, the neurons co-expressing SPR and GluR1–4 were hardly detected in the basal nucleus of Meynert of the basal forebrain.
The co-localization of SPR and AMPA receptors has provided a molecular basis for functional interaction between neurokinins and AMPA receptors-mediated signaling in basal forebrain neurons. This study has also implied that glutamate-driven neuronal transmission and excitotoxicity can be modulated by neurokinin peptides in most basal forebrain regions but not in the basal nucleus of Meynert, suggesting that neurokinins or SP may play certain roles in determining neuronal functional properties or excitotoxic susceptibility in the various basal forebrain regions of mammals.