Coexistence of neurotransmitters within single nerve fibers or terminals can be convincingly demonstrated by the use of multicolor immunofluorescence. The present study examined whether three-color immunocytochemical localization of coexisting neurotransmitters can be performed using the blue fluorophore AMCA. Spectrofluorometric examination of secondary antibodies conjugated with AMCA, fluorescein, and lissamine rhodamine showed that the peaks of excitation and emission were well separated and that dots of AMCA-conjugated IgG dried on slides were not visible when viewed using microscope filters for rhodamine and fluorescein. These findings suggest that AMCA might be suitable for three-color immunofluorescence. The usefulness of AMCA for triple labeling was tested directly by staining sections of rat brainstem and spinal cord for serotonin (5HT), substance P (SP), and either enkephalin (ENK) or preprothyrotropin-releasing hormone 160-169 (ppT), a marker peptide for thyrotropin-releasing hormone. Triple labeling for 5HT, SP, and ppT was observed in both brainstem and spinal cord but was only very rarely observed for 5HT,SP, and ENK. No evidence was found for artifactual triple labeling, although false negatives appeared to be possible in some circumstances. We conclude that AMCA can be combined with fluorescein and lissamine rhodamine for three-color immunofluorescent studies of coexisting neurotransmitters. In addition, the coexistence of 5HT with ENK appears to be much less common than the coexistence of 5HT with either SP or ppT.
- Fluorescence immunocytochemistry
- Substance P
- Thyrotropin-releasing hormone