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J Neurophysiol. 2007 Feb;97(2):1030-9. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Electrophysiological differences between neurogliaform cells from monkey and rat prefrontal cortex.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Rm. W1651 Biomedical Science Tower, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2593, USA.


Current dogma holds that a canonical cortical circuit is formed by cellular elements that are basically identical across species. However, detailed and direct comparisons between species of specific elements of this circuit are limited in number. In this study, we compared the morphological and physiological properties of neurogliaform (NGF) inhibitory neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of macaque monkeys and rats. In both species, NGF cells were readily identified based on their distinctive morphological features. Indeed, monkey NGF cells had only a few morphological features that differed from rat, including a larger soma, a greater number of dendrites, and a more compact axonal field. In contrast, whole cell recordings of the responses to injected current steps revealed important differences between monkey and rat NGF cells. Monkey NGF cells consistently generated a short-latency first spike riding on an initial depolarizing hump, whereas in rat NGF cells, the first spike appeared after a substantial delay riding on a depolarizing ramp not seen in monkey NGF cells. Thus although rat NGF cells are traditionally classified as late-spiking cells, monkey NGF cells did not meet this physiological criterion. In addition, NGF cells in monkey appeared to be more excitable than those in rat because they displayed a higher input resistance, a lower spike threshold, and a higher firing frequency. Finally, NGF cells in monkey showed a more prominent spike-frequency adaptation as compared with rat. Our findings indicate that the canonical cortical circuit differs in at least some aspects of its constituent elements across species.

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