Parvalbumin immunoreactivity in the thalamus of guinea pig: Light and electron microscopic correlation with gamma-aminobutyric acid immunoreactivity

S. De Biasi, P. Arcelli, R. Spreafico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship of the calcium binding protein parvalbumin (PV) with gamma-aminobutyric acidergic (GABAergic) neurons differs within different thalamic nuclei and animal species. In this study, the distribution of PV and GABA throughout the thalamus of the guinea pig was investigated at the light microscopic level by using immunoperoxidase methods. Intense PV labelling was found in all the GABAergic neurons of the reticular nucleus and in scattered GABAergic neurons in the anteroventral nucleus, whereas GABAergic interneurons in the ventrobasal and lateral geniculate nuclei were not PV labelled. At the electron microscopic level, preembedding immunoperoxidase for PV was combined with postembedding immunogold for GABA. In the ventrobasal nucleus, four types of profiles were recognized: 1) terminals with flattened vesicles and forming symmetric synapses, which were labelled with both PV and GABA and could therefore be identified as afferents from the reticular nucleus; 2) boutons morphologically similar to presynaptic dendrites of interneurons, labelled only with GABA; 3) large terminals with round vesicles and asymmetric synapses, labelled only with PV, which contacted GABAergic presynaptic dendrites in glomerular arrangements and resembled ascending excitatory afferents; and 4) terminals unlabelled by either antiserum. In the ventrobasal nucleus of the guinea pig a double immunocytochemical labelling permits therefore the differentiation of two populations of GABAergic vesicle-containing profiles, i.e., the terminals originating from reticular nucleus (that are double labelled) and the presynaptic dendrites originating from interneurons (that are GABA-labelled only). The possibility to differentiate GABAergic inputs from the reticular nucleus and from interneurons can shed light to the functional interpretation of synaptic circuits in thalamic sensory nuclei.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-569
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • calcium binding proteins
  • colocalization of neurotransmitters
  • interneurons
  • somatosensory system
  • ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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