Send to

Choose Destination
Anat Embryol (Berl). 2004 Jun;208(3):239-47. Epub 2004 May 27.

The anatomy of the porcine subthalamic nucleus evaluated with immunohistochemistry and design-based stereology.

Author information

Department of Neurobiology, Institute of Anatomy, University of Aarhus, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


This study provides a light-microscopic description of the organization, morphology and number of neurons in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) of the Göttingen minipig. It is based on histological material stained with Nissl, Golgi and autometallographic techniques, and employs design-based stereological estimation of the total neuron number. The organization of several neurotransmitters in the STN has been evaluated in histological preparations stained for acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and immunostained for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and glutamate. In all of the stained preparations the STN appeared as a distinct lens-shaped structure located in the caudal diencephalon, medial to the internal capsule and ventrolateral to the zona incerta. Rostrally, the STN approached the globus pallidus pars interna, whereas caudally the ventromedial part of the STN was adjacent to the rostral part of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc), where some of the neurons of the two nuclei merged. The neurons in the STN had medium-sized (25-40 microm) ovoid or fusiform cell bodies, from which three to six large dendrites emanated in a direction predominantly parallel to the long axis of the STN. Immunohistochemistry revealed that most of the subthalamic neurons were glutamatergic and differed significantly in appearance from the large stellate TH-positive cells of the adjacent SNc. Numerous TH-positive bouton-rich fibers traversed the STN. The GAD-staining revealed a large number of terminals within the boundaries of the STN. The STN was highly AChE-positive, reflecting a prominent innervation by ChAT-positive terminals. The total number of subthalamic neurons in one hemisphere was estimated to be approximately 56,000. We conclude that the neuroarchitecture of the porcine STN is similar to primates, including humans, and appears well-suited for further studies examining the role of the STN in movement disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center