Immunocytochemistry of gamma‐aminobutyric acid, glutamate, serotonin, and histamine in Necturus taste buds

S. Jain, S. D. Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Little information is currently available about which neurotransmitters are involved in signal processing in the peripheral sensory organs of taste, taste buds. Synaptic contacts between taste cells and sensory axons have long been known to exist, but what substances are active at these synapses is not known. Our objective in this study was to test for the presence of the neurotransmitter candidates, GABA, glutamate, serotonin, and histamine in taste buds of Necturus maculosus. Light microscopic immunocytochemical techniques were used to investigate the location of these substances in taste buds and surrounding epithelium. GABA and glutamate were detected in nerve fibers that innervate the taste buds, and, to a substantially lesser extent, in fine, varicose axons that penetrated the surrounding nontaste epithelium. Serotonin immunostaining was strong in basal cells in frog taste discs but was only faintly detected in Necturus taste buds. Histamine was not detected at all in taste buds. We conclude that amino acid neurotransmission may be involved in taste mechanisms and that monoamines may also play a role in chemosensory transduction in the taste bud. On the basis of our inability to detect histamine with immunocytochemical techniques, we conclude that this substance is unlikely to be a major neurotransmitter in Necturus taste buds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-682
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 22 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • chemical senses
  • chemosensory cells
  • gustation
  • neurotransmitters
  • sensory organs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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