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J Comp Neurol. 2018 Jun 1;526(8):1329-1350. doi: 10.1002/cne.24409. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Immunolocalization of muscarinic M1 receptor in the rat medial prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Toho University, Tokyo, 143-8540, Japan.
Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO), Japan Science and Technology Agency, Saitama, 332-0012, Japan.
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Toho University, Tokyo, 143-8540, Japan.
International institute for integrative sleep medicine (IIIS), Tsukuba University, Ibaraki, 305-8575, Japan.


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been considered to participate in many higher cognitive functions, such as memory formation and spatial navigation. These cognitive functions are modulated by cholinergic afferents via muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Previous pharmacological studies have strongly suggested that the M1 receptor (M1R) is the most important subtype among muscarinic receptors to perform these cognitive functions. Actually, M1R is abundant in mPFC. However, the proportion of somata containing M1R among cortical cellular types, and the precise intracellular localization of M1R remain unclear. In this study, to clarify the precise immunolocalization of M1R in rat mPFC, we examined three major cellular types, pyramidal neurons, inhibitory neurons, and astrocytes. M1R immunopositivity signals were found in the majority of the somata of both pyramidal neurons and inhibitory neurons. In pyramidal neurons, strong M1R immunopositivity signals were usually found throughout their somata and dendrites including spines. On the other hand, the signal strength of M1R immunopositivity in the somata of inhibitory neurons significantly varied. Some neurons showed strong signals. Whereas about 40% of GAD67-immunopositive neurons and 30% of parvalbumin-immunopositive neurons (PV neurons) showed only weak signals. In PV neurons, M1R immunopositivity signals were preferentially distributed in somata. Furthermore, we found that many astrocytes showed substantial M1R immunopositivity signals. These signals were also mainly distributed in their somata. Thus, the distribution pattern of M1R markedly differs between cellular types. This difference might underlie the cholinergic modulation of higher cognitive functions subserved by mPFC.


GABAergic neurons; RRID: AB_2109815; RRID: AB_2110656; RRID: AB_2278725; RRID: AB_2301751; RRID: AB_260731; RRID: AB_477329; RRID: AB_887884; RRID: AB_94856; RRID: SCR_003070; astrocytes; glia limitans; muscarinic receptor M1; prefrontal cortex; pyramidal neurons

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