Ultrastructure and synaptic relations of neural elements containing glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) in the perigeniculate nucleus of the cat

Research paper by V. M. Montero, W. Singer

Indexed on: 01 Aug '84Published on: 01 Aug '84Published in: Experimental Brain Research


The perigeniculate nucleus of the cat (PGN) was examined at light and electron microscopic levels after immunocytochemical labeling for the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) synthesizing enzyme, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). In light microscopic sections, virtually all perikarya were found to be labeled (GAD+), as well as proximal dendrites, fibres and punctiform elements. Cells in the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) dorsal to PGN were also labeled. Ultrastructural analysis of PGN showed immunoreactivity in all somata, in dendrites and in the following vesicle containing profiles: 1.) F1 terminals, which are characterized by large size, dark mitochondria, and pleomorphic vesicles. These terminals form symmetrical synaptic contacts with somata, somatic spines and with dendrites of GAD+ PGN cells. 2.) F2 terminals, which are smaller than F1 terminals, contain also pleomorphic vesicles and frequently make serial synapses of the symmetric type with other F2 terminals. Presumably, F1 terminals are formed by collaterals of PGN-cell axons and F2 terminals by vesicle containing dendrites of PGN cells. Terminals devoid of immunoreactivity included: 1.) RLD terminals characterized by large size, round vesicles, dark mitochondria, and by asymmetric synaptic contacts with somata, especially with somatic spines, and with dendrites of GAD+ perigeniculate neurons; 2.) RSD terminals, characterized by small size, round vesicles and dark mitochondria, which make asymmetric synapses with GAD+ dendrites of medium and small size; 3.) Multivesicular (MV) terminals with variably shaped vesicles including dense core vesicles synapsing on GAD+ dendrites. There are reasons to believe that RSD terminals belong to corticofugal axons and RLD terminals to collateral axons of LGN relay cells. The origin of MV terminals remains to be determined. The GABAergic nature of the PGN cells conforms with the presumed function of these cells as mediators of inhibition of LGN relay cells. The complex synaptic relations observed between GAD+ elements in the PGN would allow for reciprocal inhibition between perigeniculate cells.