Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 199, Issue 3, pp 265–280

Distribution of various neurochemicals within the zona incerta: an immunocytochemical and histochemical study

  • Christian Kolmac
  • J. Mitrofanis

DOI: 10.1007/s004290050227

Cite this article as:
Kolmac, C. & Mitrofanis, J. Anat Embryol (1999) 199: 265. doi:10.1007/s004290050227


 To gain insight into the cellular organisation of the zona incerta, we have examined the chemoarchitectonic properties of this ”uncertain zone”. The brains of Sprague-Dawley rats and common cats were processed for immunocytochemistry or NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry using standard methods. For the immunocytochemistry, antibodies to γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), parvalbumin, calbindin, tyrosine hydroxylase, somatostatin, serotonin and glutamate were used. Two general patterns of distribution in the zona incerta were seen. First, labelled cells were restricted largely to one of the cytoarchitectonically defined sectors of the zona incerta. For instance, GABA, GAD and parvalbumin-immunoreactive cells were found principally within the ventral sector, NADPH-diaphorase and glutamate-immunoreactive cells within the dorsal sector and tyrosine hydroxylase- and somatostatin-immunoreactive cells within the rostral sector. Second, labelled cells were scattered somewhat across all incertal sectors, with no clear region of concentration. This pattern included the calbindin- and serotonin-immunoreactive cell groups. These results indicate that the zona incerta is made up of many neurochemically distinct cell groups, some of which respect the well-defined cytoarchitectonic boundaries of the nucleus, whilst others do not. This rich neurochemical diversity in the zona incerta suggests that this nucleus may have differential effects on the different structures that it projects to.

Key words Cat Rat Immunocytochemistry NADPH-diaphorase Thalamus 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Kolmac
    • 1
  • J. Mitrofanis
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute für Biomedical Research, Department of Anatomy and Histology, F13, University of Sydney, 2006 Australia e-mail:, Tel.: +61-2-935-12838, Fax: +61-2-935-16556AU

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