Glutamate-positive neurons and axon terminals in cat sensory cortex: A correlative light and electron microscopic study

F. Conti, J. DeFelipe, I. Farinas, T. Manzoni

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Immunocytochemical methods were used to perform a correlative light and electron microscopic study of neurons and axon terminals immunoreactive to the antiglutamate (Glu) serum of Hepler et al. ('88) in the visual and somatic sensory areas of cats. At the light microscopic level, numerous Glu-positive neurons were found in all layers except layer I of both cortical areas. On the basis of the dendritic staining of Glu-positive cells, two major morphological categories were found: pyramidal cells, which were the most frequent type of immunostained neuron, and multipolar neurons, which were more numerous in layer IV of area 17 than in any other layer. A large number of Glu-positive neurons, however, did not display dendritic labelling and were considered unidentified neurons. Counts of labelled neurons were performed in the striate cortex; approximately 40% were Glu-positive. Numerous lightly stained punctate structures were observed in all cortical layers: the majority of these Glu-positive puncta were in the neuropil. After resectioning the plastic sections for electron microscopy it was observed that: 1) the majority of neurons unidentifiable at light microscopic level were indeed pyramidal neurons except in layer IV of area 17, where many stained cells were probably spiny stellate neurons. Some Glu-positive neurons, however, exhibited clear ultrastructural features of nonspiny nonpyramidal cells; 2) all synaptic contacts made by Glu-positive axon terminals were of the asymmetric type, but not all asymmetric synaptic contacts were labelled. The vast majority of postsynaptic targets of Glu-positive axons were unlabelled dendritic spines and shafts. The present results provide further evidence that Glu (or a closely related compound) is probably the neurotransmitter of numerous excitatory neurons in the neocortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989


  • Asymmetric synaptic contacts
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Nonpyramidal neurons
  • Pyramidal neurons
  • Sensory cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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