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J. Neurosci. 23 (17): 6847-6855

Copyright © 2003 by the Society for Neuroscience.

Evidence for Chelatable Zinc in the Extracellular Space of the Hippocampus, But Little Evidence for Synaptic Release of Zn

Alan R. Kay

Biological Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Abstract: Zinc colocalizes with glutamate in the synaptic vesicles of certain glutamatergic vesicles in the mammalian brain. Here, I introduce a method for detecting Zn in the extracellular space of brain slices and another method for detecting the passage of Zn out of the slice. In both cases, the fluorimetric Zn probe FluoZin-3 is used in conjunction with a slow Zn chelator, Ca-EDTA, to reduce background fluorescence. In addition, a new Zn chelator, ethylenediiminodi-2-pentanedioic acid, with little affinity for Ca or Mg is introduced. These tools are then used to show that little Zn (~2 nM) is released during the course of synaptic transmission into the extracellular space. However, when hippocampal slices are subjected to a high potassium stimulus (50 mM) combined with an increase in osmolarity, Zn is externalized in the Timm's-stained areas (~6 nM). This stimulus also leads to even greater Zn elevations in area CA1 that is only weakly stained by the Timm's method. Nevertheless, even under these conditions, little if any Zn makes its way out of the slices. I present evidence for a layer of Zn in the extracellular space that maps onto the Timm's stained region of the hippocampus. This Zn veneer appears to be loosely associated with molecules in the extracellular space and may be the raison d'être for vesicular Zn.

Key Words: zincfluorimetrichippocampuschelatorglutamatefluorescence


Received for publication Mar. 10, 2003. Revision received May. 28, 2003. Accepted for publication Jun. 5, 2003.

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