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J Comp Neurol. 1989 Oct 22;288(4):676-90.

Organization of cholinergic synapses in the cat's dorsal lateral geniculate and perigeniculate nuclei.

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Department of Neurobiology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710.


In the preceding article, we showed that cholinergic fibers originating from the brainstem reticular formation provide a dense innervation of the lateral geniculate nucleus. In this report we describe the ultrastructure of these fibers and their relations with other elements in the neuropil of the lateral geniculate nucleus. Cholinergic fibers were labeled with an antibody to choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), the synthesizing enzyme for acetylcholine (ACh). In the A-laminae of the lateral geniculate nucleus, ChAT + profiles are small and contain tightly packed, mostly round vesicles. Some end in encapsulated synaptic zones where they form asymmetrical synaptic contacts with processes of both projection cells and interneurons. Others form synapses upon the shafts of dendrites. Of the four classical types of vesicle-containing profiles identified by Guillery (Z. Zellforsch. Mikrosk. 96:1-38, '69; Vision Res. [Suppl.] 3:211-227, '71), ChAT + profiles most closely resemble RSD profiles (Round vesicles, Small profile, Dark mitochondria). However, as a population, ChAT + profiles can be distinguished from the unlabeled population of RSD profiles because they are larger in size, contain more mitochondria, and make synapses with smaller postsynaptic membrane specializations. Each of these differences is statistically significant and together they indicate that ChAT + profiles are a distinct morphological type of synaptic profile. ChAT + profiles in the perigeniculate nucleus resemble those found in the lateral geniculate nucleus; they also make synapses with obvious postsynaptic thickenings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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