Indexed on: 01 Oct '82Published on: 01 Oct '82Published in: Journal of Comparative Neurology
The fine structure of the cat's perigeniculate nucleus has been analyzed and compared to that of dorsal thalamic relay nuclei. Golgi preparations and electron micrographs of perigeniculate cells commonly show somatic spines. The most common presynaptic elements for these spines and for the adjacent perikaryal surfaces are relatively large axon terminals containing round synaptic vesicles and making multiple asymmetric contacts. These "RLD" terminals (so termed for their round vesicles, large average size of the terminals, and dark mitochondria) are also presynaptic to dendritic spines and shafts of proximal and secondary dendrites. Comparisons with adjacent parts of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus show that these RLD terminals are cytologically distinct from retinogeniculate terminals and that small numbers of RLD terminals also occur in the geniculate A laminae. Three other major classes of perigeniculate synaptic terminals, resemble major classes of terminals in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. These include two types of terminal with flat or ovoid synaptic vesicles and dark mitochondria, "FD1" and "FD2" terminals, and a class of small terminal with densely clustered round vesicles and dark mitochondria, "RSD" terminals. RSD terminals, which resemble corticogeniculate axon terminals, represent the only class of perigeniculate terminal that does not contact perikarya. FD2 terminals resemble lateral geniculate presynaptic dendrites and participate in serial and triadic synaptic contacts, being both pre- and postsynaptic; however, in contrast to the arrangement characteristic of thalamic relay nuclei, these contacts do not occur within synaptic glomeruli. A fifth major class of perigeniculate presynaptic terminal has large flat or polymorphic synaptic vesicles and pale mitochondria. These "FP" terminals are seen infrequently in the lateral geniculate A laminae. Similarities between perigeniculate and lateral geniculate fine structure may relate in part to common sources of afferent input to the two nuclei.