The laminar distribution and morphological features of parvalbumin-immunoreactive [PV(+l)] neurons, one of the subpopulations of GABAergic neurons, were studied in the rat olfactory bulb at a light microscopic level. In the main olfactory bulb of adult rats, PV(+) neurons were mainly located in the external plexiform layer (EPL), and a few were scattered in the glomerular layer (GL), mitral cell layer (ML), and granule cell layer (GRL); whereas PV(+) neurons were rarely seen in the accessory olfactory bulb. The inner and outer sublayers of the EPL (ISL and OSL) appeared to be somewhat different in the distribution of PV(+) somata and features of PV(+) processes. PV(+) somata were located throughout the OSL, and PV(+) processes intermingled with one another, making a dense meshwork in the OSL; whereas, in the ISL, PV(+) somata were mainly located near the inner border of the EPL, and PV(+) processes made a sparser meshwork than that in the OSL. PV(+) neurons in the EPL were apparently heterogeneous in their structural features and appeared to be classifiable into several groups. Among them there appeared five distinctive types of PV(+) neurons. The most prominent group of PV(+) neurons in the OSL were superficial short-axon cells, located in the superficial portion of this sublayer and giving rise to relatively thick processes, in horizontal or oblique directions, which usually bore spines and varicosities. Another prominent group of PV(+) neurons extended several short, branched dendrites with spines and varicosities, which appeared to intermingle with one another, making a relatively small, spherical or ovoid dendritic field around the cell bodies; most of them resembled Van Gehuchten cells reported in previous Golgi studies. A third distinctive and most numerous group of PV(+) neurons were of the multipolar type; their somata and processes were located throughout the EPL. Their relatively smooth processes with frequent varicosities and a few spines were extended horizontally or diagonally throughout the EPL. A fourth group, which could be a subtype of the multipolar type, were located in or just above th ML and extended several thin, smooth dendrites in the EPL, some of which appeared to reach the border between the GL and EPL. Occasionally, axonlike processes arose from their cell bodies and extended into the ML. This fourth type of PV(+) neuron was named inner short-axon cells. A fifth group of neuron was located in the ML; processes of these neurons were extended horizontally, so they were named inner horizontal cells. PV(+) processes from the fourth and the fifth group of cells appeared to make contacts on mitral cell somata. In the GL some presumably periglomerular cells were also PV(+). In the GRL, PV(+) neurons were small in number, but they were also heterogeneous in their structural features; Some were identified as Golgi cells. This study shows a tremendous heterogeneity in morphological features of a chemically defined subpopulation of GABAergic interneurons in the olfactory bulb.
Calcium-binding protein Immunocytochemistry Olfactory bulb Rat