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Brain Res Bull. 1997;42(1):27-37.

GABAergic neurons in mammalian thalamus: a marker of thalamic complexity?

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Istituto Nazionale Neurologico C. Besta, Dipartimento di Neurofisiologia, Milano, Italia.


The present study evaluated the occurrence, distribution, and number of GABAergic neurons in the thalamus of different mammalian species (bat, mouse, rat, guinea pig, rabbit, cat, monkey, humans), by means of light microscopical immunoenzymatic localization of GABA or of its biosynthetic enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase and by ultrastructural immunogold detection of GABA. Our data demonstrated that: 1) GABAergic local circuit neurons were detected in the thalamic visual domain in all the species analyzed, whereas in other thalamic nuclei their presence and number varied among species; 2) the number of GABAergic local circuit neurons progressively increased in the dorsal thalamus of species with more complex behavior; 3) the presence of local circuit neurons conferred a similar intrinsic organization to the dorsal thalamic nuclei, characterized by complex synaptic arrangements; 4) in the reticular thalamic nucleus, whose neurons were GABA-immunoreactive in all the examined species, the cellular density decreased from the bat to humans. These findings strongly suggest that thalamic GABAergic local circuit neurons are not directly related to the ability to perform specific sensorimotor tasks, but they are likely to reflect an increasing complexity of the local information processing that occurs at thalamic level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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