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Brain Res. 1991 Apr 26;547(1):37-52.

Further indication that distinct dopaminergic subsets project to the rat cerebral cortex: lack of colocalization with neurotensin in the superficial dopaminergic fields of the anterior cingulate, motor, retrosplenial and visual cortices.

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INSERM, U106, Hôpital Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


The extent of neurotensin (NT) colocalization in the different dopamine (DA) terminal fields of the rat cerebral cortex has been investigated and compared to previous data obtained in man (Gaspar et al., J. Comp. Neurol., 279 (1989) 249-271). Both innervations were revealed with single- or double-labeling immunocytochemical methods. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) was used as a specific marker of DA fibers after lesioning the noradrenergic system either with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) at birth or DSP4 in adulthood. Three classes of afferents were observed which had a different regional and laminar distribution. First, a dense meshwork of finely dotted NT-positive varicosities occupied restricted areas of the limbic system: the granular retrosplenial and the deep entorhinal cortices and the subicular complex. These NT projections contained no double-labeled fibers and did not correspond to a mixed NT/TH pathway. Secondly, the mixed NT/DA projections identified previously in the prefrontal cortex (Studler et al., Neuropeptides, 11 (1988) 95-100), extended in fact rostrocaudally in layer VI of the whole cerebral cortex and formed small cluster-like groupings in layers II-III of the medial and lateral entorhinal cortex. In all these areas, the mixed NT/TH projections constituted approximately half of the DA terminals. Finally, the DA projections to the superficial layers of the anterior cingulate, motor, retrosplenial and visual cortices, were not colocalized with NT. The DA innervation of layers I-III of the rat anterior cingulate cortex displays striking similarities with that observed in the cingulate, primary motor, premotor and supplementary motor cortices in man: highest regional and laminar density of DA afferents and lack of colocalization with NT. It might thus represent a valuable model for understanding the pharmacology of the DA system besides the mixed DA/NT pathway which does not seem to have a counterpart in the human cerebral cortex. By contrast, that part of the NT innervation of the limbic system which is not colocalized with DA in rat, appears to represent the major fraction of the cortical NT innervation in man.

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