The subcellular localization of cyclic GMP and cyclic AMP in the rat caudate-putamen has been studied using horseradish peroxidase immunocytochemistry. Both of the putative neurotransmitter second messengers were visualized in neurons and glial cells at light microscopic resolutions, but not all cells of either category gave detectable staining. This was confirmed at the ultrastructural level where both stained and unstained elements of the same cell type were found within the same field. A striking variation was seen in cyclic nucleotide staining intensity within individual neural and glial cells. Both of the cyclic nucleotides were detected within postsynaptic terminal boutons and within astroglial processes. Cyclic GMP postsynaptic staining was stronger than glial staining, whereas the localization pattern was reversed for cyclic AMP. The synaptic localization of cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP immunoreactivity adds support to the idea that these compounds have an influential role in synaptic function within the striatum.

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