Immunohistochemistry using antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) was used to investigate the intralaminar nuclei of the thalamus in rat, cat and monkey. Antibodies to gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) were also used in the cat. Intralaminar immunoreactive cell bodies were not detected in the rat, but were clearly present in cat and monkey. In the latter species, GABA- or GAD-immunopositive perikarya were distributed throughout the anterior intralaminar nuclei, whereas in the posterior intralaminar complex they prevailed in the lateral part of the centre median nucleus and around the fasciculus retrofiexus. Measurements of the area of immunostained intralaminar cell bodies in cat and monkey indicated that they are represented by small neurons. Experiments in the cat, based on retrograde tracers injections involving large sectors of the frontal and parietal cortices and the head of the caudate nucleus, revealed that the GABA- or GAD-immunoreactive cells and the retrogradely labeled projection neurons represented two separate intralaminar cell populations, although the latter also included small cells. Considerable differences were observed in the immunoreactive GABAergic neuropil of the anterior and posterior intralaminar nuclei. Clusters of densely packed bouton-like immunoreactive elements were detected in the former structures in the rat, cat and monkey, and were especially evident in the central lateral nucleus; immunopositive varicose fibers and puncta were diffusely distributed in the posterior intralaminar structures. Taken together with data from the literature, the present findings indicate that in cat and monkey local circuit inhibitory cells regulate not only the activity of principal thalamic nuclei which project densely upon restricted cortical fields, but also of the intralaminar structures which are widely connected with the cerebral cortex and the striatum. Regional variations in the distribution of GABAergic fibers and terminals suggest major differences in the organization of inhibitory circuits and synaptic arrangements of the anterior and posterior intralaminar thalamus.
- Intralaminar nuclei
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