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Neuroscience. 1997 Oct;80(3):775-92.

The morphological and chemical characteristics of striatal neurons immunoreactive for the alpha1-subunit of the GABA(A) receptor in the rat.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy with Radiology, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, Private Bag, New Zealand.

Abstract

The distribution, morphology and chemical characteristics of neurons immunoreactive for the alpha1-subunit of the GABA(A) receptor in the striatum of the basal ganglia in the rat brain were investigated at the light, confocal and electron microscope levels using single, double and triple immunohistochemical labelling techniques. The results showed that alpha1-subunit immunoreactive neurons were sparsely distributed throughout the rat striatum. Double and triple labelling results showed that all the alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons were positive for glutamate decarboxylase and immunoreactive for the beta2,3 and gamma2 subunits of the GABA(A) receptor. Three types of alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons were identified in the striatum on the basis of cellular morphology and chemical characteristics. The most numerous alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons were medium-sized, aspiny neurons with a widely branching dendritic tree. They were parvalbumin-negative and were located mainly in the dorsolateral regions of the striatum. Electron microscopy showed that these neurons had an indented nuclear membrane, typical of striatal interneurons, and were surrounded by small numbers of axon terminals which established alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive synaptic contacts with the soma and dendrites. These cells were classified as type 1 alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons and comprised 75% of the total population of alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons in the striatum. The remaining alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons comprised of a heterogeneous population of large-sized neurons localized in the ventral and medial regions of the striatum. The most numerous large-sized cells were parvalbumin-negative, had two to three relatively short branching dendrites and were designated type 2 alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons. Electron microscopy showed that the type 2 neurons were characterized by a highly convoluted nuclear membrane and were sparsely covered with small axon terminals. The type 2 neurons comprised 20% of the total population of alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons. The remaining large-sized alpha1-immunoreactive cells were designated type 3 cells; they were positive for parvalbumin and were distinguished by long branching dendrites extending dorsally for 600-800 microm into the striatum. These neurons comprised 5% of the total population of alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons and were surrounded by enkephalin-immunoreactive terminals. Electron microscopy showed that the alpha1-subunit type 3 neurons had an indented nuclear membrane and were densely covered with small axon terminals which established alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive symmetrical synaptic contacts with the soma and dendrites. These results provide a detailed characterization of the distribution, morphology and chemical characteristics of the alpha1-subunit-immunoreactive neurons in the rat striatum and suggest that the type 1 and type 2 neurons comprise of separate populations of striatal interneurons while the type 3 neurons may represent the large striatonigral projection neurons described by Bolam et al. [Bolam J. P., Somogyi P., Totterdell S. and Smith A. D. (1981) Neuroscience 6, 2141-2157.].

PMID:
9276493
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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