, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 93-108

Projections from the presubiculum and the parasubiculum to morphologically characterized entorhinal-hippocampal projection neurons in the rat

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The relations between the inputs from the presubiculum and the parasubiculum and the cells in the entorhinal cortex that give rise to the perforant pathway have been studied in the rat at the light microscopical level. Projections from the presubiculum and the parasubiculum were labeled anterogradely, and, in the same animal, cells in the entorhinal cortex that project to the hippocampal formation were labeled by retrograde tracing and subsequent intracellular filling with Lucifer Yellow. The distribution and the number of appositions between the afferent fibers and hippocampal projection neurons in the various layers of the entorhinal cortex were analyzed. The results show that layers I–IV of the entorhinal cortex contain neurons that give rise to projections to the hippocampal formation. The morphology of these projection neurons is highly variable and afferents from the presubiculum and the parasubiculum do not show a preference for any specific morphological cell type. Both inputs preferentially innervate the dendrites of their target cells. However, presubicular and parasubicular projections differ with respect to the layer of entorhinal cortex they project to. The number of appositions of presubicular afferents with cells that have their cell bodies in layer III of the entorhinal cortex is 2–3 times higher than with cells in layer II. In contrast, afferents from the parasubiculum form at least 2–3 times as many synapses on the dendrites of cells located in layer II than on neurons that have their cell bodies in layer III. Cells in layers I and IV of the entorhinal cortex receive weak inputs from the presubiculum and parasubiculum. Not only is the presubiculum different from the parasubiculum with respect to the distribution of projections to the entorhinal cortex, they also differ in their afferent and efferent connections. In turn, cells in layer II of the entorhinal cortex differ in their electrophysiological characteristics from those in layer III. Moreover, layer II neurons give rise to the projections to the dentate gyrus and field CA3/CA2 of the hippocampus proper, and cells in layer III project to field CA1 and the subiculum. Therefore, we propose that the interactions of the entorhinal-hippocampal network with the presubiculum are different from those with the parasubiculum.