Localization of enkephalin-like immunoreactivity to identified axonal and neuronal populations of the rat hippocampus.

Research paper by C C Gall, N N Brecha, H J HJ Karten, K J KJ Chang

Indexed on: 10 May '81Published on: 10 May '81Published in: Journal of Comparative Neurology


The distribution of enkephalin-like immunoreactivity in the hippocampal formation of the rat was analyzed. Two specific projection systems are described. The first emerges from the hilus of the dentate gyrus and appears to terminate with notably large boutons on the proximal apical and, to a lesser extent, basal dendrites of hippocampal regio inferior pyramidal cells. This projection corresponds in source, position, and character to the hippocampal mossy fiber system. The second axonal population enters the temporal hippocampal formation from the medial wall of the subicular complex and follows the hippocampal fissure to occupy stratum lacunosum-moleculare of the hippocampus proper and the distal third of the dentate gyrus molecular layer; this pattern corresponds to the distribution of afferent input from the lateral entorhinal cortex and/or perirhinal area. Lesions of the hilus or retrohippocampal area caused a selective depletion of immunoreactivity in the mossy fiber fields and molecular layers of the dentate gyrus, respectively. Enkephalin-like immunoreactivity was found within the somata of three types of hippocampal neurons: 1) granule cells of the dentate gyrus, 2) occasional pyramidal shaped cells of field CA1 stratum pyramidale, and 3) varied scattered interneurons. Of this last group, two types of interneurons were consistently seen. The first occupy the border between stratum radiatum and stratum lacunosum-moleculare and extend processes at right angles to the long axis of the pyramidal cell dentrites, whereas the second lie within stratum radiatum of field CA1 and extend processes in alignment with the long axis of the pyramidal cell dendrites. Cells containing enkephalin-like immunoreactivity were also observed in the subiculum and retrohippocampal region, most notably including layers II and III of the lateral entorhinal cortex-perirhinal area--the probable source of extrinsic immunoreactive input to the hippocampal formation. Intraventricular colchicine treatment intensified the immunoreactive staining of some hippocampal neurons but did not reveal any cell types not seen to be labeled in untreated rats.