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J Chem Neuroanat. 2002 Feb;23(2):75-104.

Principles of rat subcortical forebrain organization: a study using histological techniques and multiple fluorescence labeling.

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Department of Neuroanatomy, Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research, University of Leipzig, Jahnallee 59, D-04109, Leipzig, Germany.


In the present study, we introduce new views on neuro- and chemoarchitectonics of the rat forebrain subcortex deduced from traditional and current concepts of anatomical organization and from our own results. It is based on double and triple immunofluorescence of markers for transmitter-related enzymes, calcium-binding proteins, receptor proteins, myelin basic protein (MBP) and neuropeptides, and on histological cell/myelin stains. The main findings can be summarized as follows: (i) the dorsal striatum of rat and other myomorph rodents reveals a small caudate equivalent homotopic to the caudate nucleus (C) of other mammals, and a large putamen (Pu). (ii) Shell and core can be distinguished also in the 'rostral pole' of nucleus accumbens (ACC) with the calretinin/calbindin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) immunostaining. The shell reveals characteristics of a genuine striatal but not of an extended amygdala (EA) subunit. (iii) EA and lateral septum show striking similarities in structure and fiber connections and may therefore represent a separate parastriatal complex. (iv) The meandering dense layer (DL) of olfactory tubercle (OT) forms longitudinal gyrus- and sulcus-like structures converging in its rostral pole. (v) The core regions of the islands of Calleja that border the ventral pallidum (VP) sharing some of its features are invaded by myelinated fibers of the medial forebrain bundle (MFB). The island of Calleja magna is also apposed to an inconspicuous, slender dorsal appendage of VP. (vi) The VP is composed of a large dorsal reticulated part traversed by the myelinated GABAergic parvalbumin-immunoreactive axons of the MFB and a slender ventral non-reticulate part close to the islands of Calleja. (vii) Considering their close association to the limbic system, ventral striatum (VS) and VP may represent the oldest part of basal ganglia, whereas dorsal striatopallidal subunits were progressively developed in parallel to the growing neocortical influence on motor behavior.

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