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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Jul 1;370(3):350-66.

Metabolic and neurochemical plasticity of gamma-aminobutyric acid-immunoreactive neurons in the adult macaque striate cortex following monocular impulse blockade: quantitative electron microscopic analysis.

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Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.


The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of retinal impulse blockade on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-immunoreactive (GABA-IR) neurons in cytochrome oxidase (CO)-rich puffs of the adult monkey striate cortex. Specifically, we wished to know if changes occurred in their CO activity, GABA immunoreactivity, and synaptic organization. A double-labeling technique, which combined CO histochemistry and postembedding GABA immunocytochemistry on the same ultrathin sections, was used to reveal simultaneously the distribution of the two markers. We quantitatively compared changes in GABA-IR neurons of deprived puffs (DPs) with respect to non-deprived puffs (NPs) 2 weeks after monocular tetrodotoxin treatment. We found that the proportion of darkly CO reactive mitochondria in GABA-IR neurons of DPs drastically decreased to about half of those in NPs. There was a greater reduction of CO levels in GABA-IR axon terminals than in their cell bodies and dendrites. In contrast, most non-GABA-IR neurons displayed no significant change in their CO levels. Morphologically, GABA-IR neurons and axon terminals in DPs showed a significant shrinkage in their mean size. GABA immunoreactivity, as indicated by the density of immunogold particles in GABA-IR neurons, declined in DPs, and a greater decrease was also found in axon terminals than in cell bodies or dendrites. Moreover, the numerical density of GABA-IR axon terminals and synapses in DPs was significantly reduced without changes in that of asymmetric and symmetric synapses. Thus, the present results support the following conclusions: 1) Oxidative metabolism and neurotransmitter expression in GABA-IR neurons are tightly regulated by neuronal activity in adult monkey striate cortex; 2) GABA-IR neurons are much more vulnerable to functional deprivation than non-GABA-IR ones, suggesting that these inhibitory neurons have stringent requirement for sustained excitatory input to maintain their heightened oxidative capacity; and 3) intracortical inhibition mediated by GABA transmission following afferent deprivation may be decreased in deprived puffs, because the oxidative capacity and transmitter level in GABAergic neurons, especially in their axon terminals, are dramatically reduced.

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