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J Comp Neurol. 2010 Feb 1;518(3):389-404. doi: 10.1002/cne.22229.

Immunochemical characterization of inhibitory mouse cortical neurons: three chemically distinct classes of inhibitory cells.

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Systems Neurobiology Laboratories, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The cerebral cortex has diverse types of inhibitory neurons. In rat cortex, past research has shown that parvalbumin (PV), somatostatin (SOM), calretinin (CR), and cholecystokinin (CCK) label four distinct chemical classes of GABAergic interneurons. However, in contrast to rat cortex, previous studies indicate that there is significant colocalization of SOM and CR in mouse cortical inhibitory neurons. In the present study we further characterized immunochemical distinctions among mouse inhibitory cortical neurons by double immunochemical labeling with chemical markers. We found that, PV, SOM, and vasointenstinal peptide (VIP) reliably identify three nonoverlapping distinct subpopulations, as there was no overlap of immunoreactivity between PV and all the other chemical markers tested, and SOM and VIP did not show any overlap in labeled neurons in all the cortical areas. In comparison, there was significant overlap in combinations of other chemical markers. With some laminar and regional variations, the average overlap of SOM/CR (percentage of SOM+ cells expressing CR) and SOM/neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY) across all examined layers and cortical regions was 21.6% and 7.1%, respectively. The average overlap of VIP/CR, VIP/NPY, and CR/NPY was 34.2%, 9.5%, and 10%, respectively. We quantified and assessed the percentages of marker-positive GABAergic cells, and showed that the nonoverlapping subpopulations (i.e., PV+, SOM+ and VIP+ cells) accounted for about 60% of the GABAergic cell population. Taken together, our data reveal important chemical distinctions between mouse inhibitory cortical neurons and indicate that PV, SOM, and VIP can differentially label a majority of mouse inhibitory cortical neurons.

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