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J Chem Neuroanat. 2000 Apr;18(4):147-59.

Nitric oxide synthase distribution in the cat superior colliculus and co-localization with choline acetyltransferase.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy and the Neuroscience Center, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 1901 Perdido Street, New Orleans, LA 70112-1393, USA.


Nitric oxide and acetylcholine are important neuromodulators implicated in brain plasticity and disease. We have examined the cellular and fiber localization of nitric oxide in the cat superior colliculus (SC) and its degree of co-localization with ACh using nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPHd) histochemistry and an antibody to neuronal nitric oxide synthase. ACh was localized using an antibody against choline acetyltransferase. We also made injections of biocytin into the region of the parabrachial brainstem to confirm that this region is a source of nitric oxide containing fibers in SC. NADPHd labeled neurons within the superficial layers of the superior colliculus included pyriform, vertical fusiform, and horizontal morphologies. Labeled neurons in the intermediate gray layer were small to medium in size, and mostly of stellate morphology. Neurons in the deepest layers had mostly vertical or stellate morphologies. NADPHd labeled fibers formed dense patches of terminal boutons within the intermediate gray layer and streams of fibers within the deepest layers of SC. Choline acetyltransferase antibody labeling in adjacent sections indicated that many fibers must contain both labels. Over 94% of neurons in the pedunculopontine tegmental and lateral dorsal tegmental nuclei were also labeled by both NADPHd and choline acetyltransferase. In addition, biocytin labeled fibers from this region were localized in the NADPHd labeled patches. We conclude that nitric oxide is contained in a variety of cell types in SC and that both nitric oxide and ACh likely serve as co-modulators in this midbrain structure.

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