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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Jan 22;364(4):609-36.

Local circuit neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (areas 24a,b,c, 25 and 32) in the monkey: II. Quantitative areal and laminar distributions.

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University Department of Pharmacology, Oxford, England.


The companion paper (Gabbott and Bacon [1996] J. Comp. Neurol.) describes the morphology of calretinin (CR)-, parvalbumin (PV)-, calbindin (CB)-, and GABA-immunoreactive neurons, and NADPH diaphorase-reactive cells, in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC; areas 24a, 24b, 24c, 25 and 32) of the adult monkey. Since these local circuit neurons play crucial functional roles, the aim of this study was to provide supportive quantitative data defining their areal and laminar distribution in mPFC. The numerical densities of neurons (Nv, number of cells per mm3) in each area and layer were calculated stereologically. The mean total neuronal NV estimates across mPFC was 55,727 +/- 3,319 per mm3 (mean +/- S.D.; n = 3); values ranged from 50,489 +/- 8,374 per mm3 (area 24a) to 59,938 +/- 7,214 per mm3 (area 24c). Interareal differences were not significant. Cortical depth measurements and neuronal NV estimates for each area allowed the absolute number of neurons in a column of cortex under 1 mm2 of surface to be calculated; values varied between 86,457 +/- 15,063 (area 24a) and 128,464 +/- 24,050 (area 24c). Using immunolabelled Nissl-stained sections of mPFC, CR+ neurons constituted 11.2%, PV+ neurons 5.9%, and CB+ neurons 5.0% of the total neuron population. GABA+ neurons represented an overall 24.9% (23.5-27.3%) of neurons in the mPFC. Differences between areas were not significant. The cortical depth distribution histograms of CR+, PV+, CB+, and GABA+ cell populations in each area were derived and the percentage of a given cell population in each layer subsequently calculated. Peaks in the cortical depth distributions of CR+ and CB+ neurons occurred in layer 2 and upper layer 3, respectively; the peak distribution of PV+ neurons occurred between lower layer 3 and upper layer 5. The depth distribution of GABA+ cells reflected the combined distributions of CR+, PV+ and CR+ neurons. In all areas, the majority (74.4-84.0%) of the GABA cell population was located in layers 2/3. The depth distributions for each cell type were similar between areas. Diaphorase-reactive neurons accounted for 0.25% (0.2-0.32%) of all cortical neurons in mPFC and were distributed in two horizontal strata, in midlayer 3 and in mid/upper layer 6. A large population of diaphorase-reactive cells was present in the white matter. The absolute numbers of CR+, PV+, CB+ and GABA+ neurons within individual layers in a column of cortex under 1 mm2 and 50 x 50 microns of cortical surface have been derived. The data presented provide the basis for a quantitative definition of cortical circuits in monkey mPFC.

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