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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1991;183(5):427-54.

Distribution and targets of the cartwheel cell axon in the dorsal cochlear nucleus of the guinea pig.

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Laboratory of Neuromorphology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269-4154.


This investigation attempted to determine the mode of distribution and synaptic targets of the cartwheel cell axon in the guinea pig dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCoN). Antiserum against PEP-19, a putative calcium-binding neuropeptide, was employed at the light and electron microscopic levels. We show that in the hind-brain of the guinea pig, cerebellar Purkinje cells and DCoN cartwheel cells are the most densely immunoreactive neurons. The PEP-19 immunoreaction product is localized to all neuronal compartments of these cells. Primary targets of cartwheel cell axons are the DCoN pyramidal cells, the large efferent neurons of layer 2. These neurons receive numerous immunoreactive synaptic boutons on their cell bodies and apical and basal dendritic arbors. A PEP-19-immunoreactive axonal plexus, largely formed by cartwheel cell axons, highlights layer 3, co-extensively with the basal arbors of pyramidal cells. This plexus is oriented predominantly in the transstrial plane of the DCoN, in parallel with the sheet-like basal dendritic arbor of pyramidal neurons and with the isofrequency bands of primary cochlear nerve fibers. PEP-19-positive boutons contain pleomorphic synaptic vesicles and form symmetric synaptic junctions, indicative of inhibitory innervation. In addition, immunoreactive boutons, similar to those synapsing on pyramidal neurons, were observed on the cell bodies and main dendritic trunks of cartwheel neurons, indicating a system of recurrent collaterals. Furthermore, a small number of PEP-19-positive axons of unknown origin reach the caudal rim of the posteroventral cochlear nucleus. Within the territory of distribution of the cartwheel cell axon are the dendrites of at least two other types of DCoN neuron, the vertical cells of Lorente de NĂ³ and the giant cells. These neurons may represent additional targets of the cartwheel cell axon, but this remains to be ascertained with specific methods. Our data demonstrate that the cartwheel neurons modulate the activity of pyramidal neurons and, therefore, play a key role in shaping the output of the DCoN superficial layers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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