Cytoarchitecture of the rat's supraoptic nucleus

Research paper by J. E. Bruni, P. M. Perumal

Indexed on: 01 Oct '84Published on: 01 Oct '84Published in: Anatomy and embryology


There have been few Golgi studies dealing with the cytoarchitecture of the supraoptic nucleus (SON). This is due in part to resistance of supraoptic neurons to impregnation by Golgi methods. In this study, the structure of the SON was examined in normal S/D rats by using both Nissl and Golgi-silver methods. The purpose was to correlate shape, size and location of neurons within the SON as revealed by these two techniques. On the basis of size, neurons of the SON can be divided into 3 populations: <200 μm2, (9%); 100–200 μm2, (64%); and <100 μm2, (27%). The larger neurons are located predominantly at mid-nuclear levels; the smaller at rostral and caudal levels of the nucleus. The perikarya of most SON neurons (64%) are only slightly elliptical in cross-section (L/W≤2). The large neurons, however, tend to be more spherical whereas the smaller neurons are more elongated (L/W≥3). In Golgi preparations, a variety of randomly distributed bipolar and multipolar neurons were identified. One form of bipolar neuron had a large spherical or oval cell body that was intimately associated with blood vessels. Its thick, varicose dendrites usually lacked spines and were not extensively branched. A second form of bipolar neuron was distinguished by its smaller more fusiform cell body and lengthy dendrites which were often spinous and more extensively branched. Axons, when present emerged from the cell body or a proximal dendrite and were uniformly thin except for fusiform swellings along their length. Among multipolar neurons, the following variants were distinguished: spherical and polygonal neurons of various sizes with 3–5 dendrites and small triangular neurons with dendrites arising from each of the poles. The results of this study demonstrate the heterogeneity of the rat SON and of its neuronal components, some of which appear suited to function in a nonendocrine capacity, possibly as interneurons.