Nicotinic antagonist alpha-bungarotoxin binding to rat hippocampal neurons containing nitric oxide synthase.
ABSTRACT The hippocampus is a major target of alpha-bungarotoxin (alpha-BTX) binding. This ligand binds to the alpha 7 nicotinic, cholinergic receptor, which has been implicated in hippocampal habituation to repetitive auditory stimulation, a phenomenon thought to involve inhibitory neurons. This study examined whether alpha-BTX binds to neurons containing nitric oxide synthase (NOS), a marker of one subgroup of inhibitory hippocampal neurons. Rat hippocampal sections were processed for NOS immunohistochemistry, photographed and then processed for [125I]alpha-BTX autoradiography. Comparison between the distribution of neurons immunoreactive for NOS and those positive for alpha-BTX binding in the same regions of the hippocampal formation revealed a variable degree of colocalization of NOS and alpha-BTX. Of the cells labeled with alpha-BTX, 2% in the dentate gyrus and 40% in the hippocampus proper were also immunoreactive for NOS. These NOS/alpha-BTX neurons were most prevalent in CA1 stratum oriens. The results suggest a possible role for NOS-containing neurons in alpha 7-mediated inhibition to repetitive auditory stimulation in rat hippocampus.