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Brain Res Bull. 1993;31(5):553-63.

Immunoreactivity for GAD and three peptides in somatosensory cortex and thalamus of the raccoon.

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Department of Surgery, Section of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta 30912.


Immunocytochemical methods were used to determine the distributions of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), cholecystokinin (CCK), and somatostatin (SOM) in the primary somatosensory cortex and somatosensory thalamus of adult raccoons. The cortex showed extensive immunoreactivity for GAD, revealing a large population of GABAergic neurons. GAD-labeled cells were numerous in all cortical layers, but were most concentrated in laminae II-IV. The cells were nonpyramidal and of varying morphology, typically with somata of small or medium size. GAD-immunoreactive puncta, presumably synaptic terminals, were widespread and often appeared to end on both GAD-negative and GAD-positive neurons. Immunoreactivity for the peptides was much less extensive than that for GAD, with the number of labeled neurons for VIP > CCK > SOM. Peptidergic cells were preferentially located in the upper and middle cortical layers, especially laminae II and III. The cells were nonpyramidal, often bitufted or bipolar in morphology, and small to medium in size. Their processes formed diffuse plexuses of fibers with terminal-like varicosities that occasionally surrounded nonpeptidergic neurons. The thalamus showed a clearly differentiated pattern of immunoreactivity for GAD, but little or no labeling for the three peptides. Nuclei adjoining the ventral posterior lateral (VPL)/ventral posterior medial (VPM) complex--including the reticular nucleus--contained many GAD-positive neurons and fibers. In contrast, the VPL and VPM nuclei displayed considerably less GAD immunoreactivity, somewhat surprising given the raccoon's highly developed somatosensory system. However, the ventral posterior inferior (VPI) nucleus revealed rather dense GAD labeling, perhaps related to a specialized role in sensory information processing. Thus, the primary somatosensory cortex of the raccoon showed patterns of immunoreactivity for GAD and peptides that were similar to those of other species; the somatosensory thalamus revealed a distinctive profile of GAD immunoreactivity, with labeling that was light to moderate in the VPL/VPM complex and relatively extensive in VPL.

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