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Neuroscience. 1994 Oct;62(3):707-19.

Synaptic input and output of parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in the neostriatum of the rat.

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MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit, Oxford, UK.


Previous studies have demonstrated that the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin, is located within a population of GABAergic interneurons in the neostriatum of the rat. Anatomical studies have revealed that these cells receive asymmetrical synaptic input from terminals that are similar to identified cortical terminals and that they innervate neurons with the ultrastructural features of medium spiny cells. Furthermore, electrophysiological studies suggest that some GABAergic interneurons in the neostriatum receive direct excitatory input from the cortex and inhibit medium spiny cells following cortical stimulation. The main objectives of the present study were (i) to determine whether parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in the rat receive direct synaptic input from the cortex, (ii) to determine whether parvalbumin-immunopositive axon terminals innervate identified striatal projection neurons and (iii) to chemically characterize this anatomical circuit at the fine structural level. Rats received stereotaxic injections of biocytin in the frontal cortex or injections of neurobiotin in the substantia nigra. Following an appropriate survival time, the animals were perfused and the brains were sectioned and treated to reveal the transported tracers. Sections containing the neostriatum were treated for simultaneous localization of the transported tracer and parvalbumin immunoreactivity. Tracer deposits in the cortex gave rise to massive terminal and fibre labelling in the neostriatum. Parvalbumin-immunoreactive elements located within fields of anterogradely labelled terminals were examined in the electron microscope and corticostriatal terminals were found to form asymmetrical synaptic specializations with all parts of parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons that were examined. Tracer deposits in the substantia nigra produced retrograde labelling of a subpopulation of striatonigral neurons. Areas of the neostriatum and nucleus accumbens containing retrogradely labelled neurons and parvalbumin-immunoreactive structures were selected for electron microscopy. Parvalbumin-immunopositive axon terminals formed symmetrical synaptic specializations with the perikarya of retrogradely labelled medium spiny projection neurons. Postembedding immunocytochemistry for GABA revealed that parvalbumin-immunoreactive boutons in synaptic contact with medium spiny neurons were GABA-positive. These data demonstrate directly a neural circuit whereby cortical information may be passed to medium spiny cells, via GABAergic interneurons, in the form of inhibition and provide an anatomical substrate for the feed-forward inhibition that has been detected in spiny neurons in electrophysiological experiments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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