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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 194–203 | Cite as

GABAergic neurons comprise a major cell type in rodent visual relay nuclei: an immunocytochemical study of pretectal and accessory optic nuclei

  • R. A. Giolli
  • G. M. Peterson
  • C. E. Ribak
  • H. M. McDonald
  • R. H. I. Blanks
  • J. H. Fallon
Article

Summary

The enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) has been localized in sections of rodent brains (gerbil, rat) using conventional immunocytochemical techniques. Our findings demonstrate that large numbers of GAD-positive neurons and axon terminals (puncta) are present in the visual relay nuclei of the pretectum and the accessory optic system. The areas of highest density of these neurons are in the nucleus of the optic tract (NOT) of the pretectum, the dorsal and lateral terminal accessory optic nuclei (DTN, LTN), the ventral and dorsal subdivisions of the medial terminal accessory optic nucleus (MTNv, MTNd), and the interstitial nucleus of the posterior fibers of the superior fasciculus (inSFp). The findings indicate that 27% of the NOT neurons are GAD-positive and that these neurons are distributed over all of the NOT except the most superficial portion of the NOT caudally. The GAD-positive neurons of the NOT are statistically smaller (65.9 μm2) than the total population of neurons of the NOT (84.3 [j,m2) but are otherwise indistinguishable in shape from the total neuron population. The other visual relay nuclei that have been analyzed (DTN, LTN, MTNv, MTNd, inSFp) are similar in that from 21% to 31% of their neurons are GAD-positive; these neurons are smaller in diameter and are more spherical than the total populations of neurons. The data further show that a large proportion of the neurons in these visual relay nuclei are contacted by GAD-positive axon terminals. It is estimated that approximately one-half of the neurons of the NOT and the terminal accessory optic nuclei receive a strong GABAergic input and have been called “GAD-recipient neurons”. Further, the morphology of the GAD-positive neurons combined with their similar distribution to the GAD-recipient neurons suggest that many of these neurons are acting as GABAergic, local circuit neurons. On the other hand, the large number of GAD-positive neurons in the NOT and MTN (20–30%) in relation to estimates of projection neurons (75%) presents the possibility that some may in fact be projection neurons. The overall findings provide morphological evidence which supports the general conclusion that GABAergic neurons play a significant role in modulating the output of the visually related NOT and terminal accessory optic nuclei.

Key words

GABAergic neurons Accessory optic nuclei Pretectal nuclei Gerbil Rat Visual system 

Abbreviations to Figures

A

Cerebral aqueduct

CP

Posterior commissure

DK

Nucleus of Darkschewitsch

DMN

Deep mesencephalic nucleus

DTN

Dorsal terminal nucleus, accessory optic system

HITr

Habenulointerpeduncular tract

IGL

Intergeniculate leaflet

INC

Interstitial nucleus of Cajal

inSFp

Interstitial nucleus, superior fasciculus, posterior fibers

LGNd

Dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus

LGNv

Ventral posterior nucleus

LP

Lateral posterior nucleus

LTN

Lateral terminal nucleus, accessory optic system

MB

Mammillary body

MGN

Medial geniculate nucleus

ML

Medial lemniscus

MTNd

Medial terminal nucleus, dorsal subdivision, accessory optic system

MTNv

Medial terminal nucleus, ventral subdivision, accessory optic system

NOT

Nucleus of the optic tract

NPC

Nucleus of posterior commissure

OT

Optic tract

PA

Anterior pretectal nucleus

PAG

Periaqueductal gray

pbp

Nucleus parabrachialis pigmentosus

pC

Cerebral peduncle

PM

Medial pretectal nucleus

pn

Nucleus paranigralis

PO

Pretectal olivary nucleus

pp

Posterior pretectal nucleus

PPN

Peripeduncular nucleus

RNm

Magnocellular division, red nucleus

RNp

Parvocellular division, red nucleus

SC

Superior colliculus

SGP

Stratum griseum profundus, superior colliculus

SGS

Stratum griseum superficiale, superior colliculus

SGM

Stratum griseum medium, superior colliculus

SNc

Substantia nigra, pars compacta

SNr

Substantia nigra, pars reticulata

SO

Stratum opticum, superior colliculus

VB

Ventrobasal complex

ZI

Zona incerta

3N

Oculomotor nerve, root fibers

3V

Third ventricle

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. Giolli
    • 1
  • G. M. Peterson
    • 1
  • C. E. Ribak
    • 1
  • H. M. McDonald
    • 1
  • R. H. I. Blanks
    • 1
  • J. H. Fallon
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Anatomy and SurgeryCalifornia College of Medicine, University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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