Article

Journal of Neurocytology

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 319-331

First online:

GABA innervation in adult rat oculomotor nucleus: A radioautographic and immunocytochemical study

  • Jean -Jacques SoghomonianAffiliated withDépartement Voies et Neurotransmission Centrales, CNRS Laboratoire de Neurobiologie
  • , Robert PinardAffiliated withDépartement Voies et Neurotransmission Centrales, CNRS Laboratoire de Neurobiologie
  • , Jeanne LanoirAffiliated withDépartement Voies et Neurotransmission Centrales, CNRS Laboratoire de Neurobiologie

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Summary

GABA innervation in the adult rat oculomotor nucleus (n.III) was investigated using two complementary approaches: radioautography after incubation of brain slices with tritiated GABA ([3H]GABA) along with localin vivo microinjections of the tracer, and GABA immunocytochemical procedures involving antibodies directed against a GABA-glutaraldehyde-protein conjugate. As determined by radioautography afterin vitro orin vivo labelling, the [3H]GABA uptake sites in the n.III mainly involved axon terminals. These were distributed throughout the neuropil and were often closely apposed to unlabelled motoneuron somata. A small number of glial cells also showed preferential accumulation of the tracer. The GABA-immunostaining likewise involved axon terminals throughout the nucleus, but no glial cells were immunopositive. In the dorsal region of the structure, occasional GABA-immunostained internuclear neurons were observed among unstained motoneuron cell bodies. Electron microscopic examination of [3H]GABA-labelled or GABA-immunostained profiles in n.III revealed axon terminals of around 1 μm in diameter, always filled with small, round synaptic vesicles homogeneously distributed throughout the axoplasm. These boutons frequently contained mitochondria and one or more large granular vesicles. In single thin sections, 35% of [3H]GABA-labelled, and 19% of GABA-immunostained varicose profiles exhibited a synaptic differentiation, suggesting the existence of a predominantly if not entirely junctional innervation. These synapses mostly involved dendritic trunks or dendritic branches and were usually of the symmetrical type. A few, which were always symmetrical, were also observed on large somata of motoneurons. Some of the dendrites synaptically contacted by GABA-immunostained axon terminals were themselves GABA immunoreactive. These data substantiate the idea that GABA is involved in the control of motoneuron activity in n.III, and provide a structural basis for the inhibitory role of this transmitter in oculomotor function.