Characterization of calretinin-immunoreactive structures in the striatum of the rat.
Previous observations have shown that the striatum contains a population of neurones that display immunoreactivity for calretinin. In order to morphologically characterize these neurones, sections of the rat striatum were immunostained to reveal calretinin and examined at both light and electron microscopic levels. The striatum contained a small population of calretinin-immunoreactive neurones, which were of medium-size (9-17 microns) and possessed few aspiny, infrequently branching dendrites which tapered to become very thin processes in their most distal portions. Although the calretinin-immunoreactive neurones were homogeneously distributed in the frontal plane, there was a marked rostrocaudal gradient with a much greater density of cells in the rostral than in the caudal parts of the striatum. At the ultrastructural level, calretinin-immunoreactive neurones were seen to possess an indented nucleus and to receive synaptic input from at least three types of boutons. In addition to the calretinin-immunoreactive neurones, the striatum also contained axons and terminal boutons that displayed immunoreactivity for calretinin. At least two types of immunoreactive terminals were identified, those forming symmetrical synaptic specialisations and those forming asymmetrical synaptic specialisations. Approximately 50% formed asymmetrical contacts with spines and 30% formed symmetrical synaptic contact with dendritic shafts. In an attempt to further chemically characterize the calretinin-containing neurones, double pre-embedding immunocytochemistry for calretinin and parvalbumin or choline acetyltransferase was carried out and calretinin immunocytochemistry was combined with histochemistry for NADPH-diaphorase. Analysis of these double-stained sections revealed that the population of calretinin-immunoreactive neurones was distinct from the populations of neurones containing parvalbumin, choline acetyltransferase or NADPH-diaphorase. It is concluded that: (1) on the basis of distribution, morphology, chemistry, ultrastructure and afferent synaptic input, the calretinin-immunoreactive neurones are distinct from the major classes of neurones that have been previously recognised in the striatum; (2) calretinin-immunoreactive terminals are heterogeneous and are probably derived from local calretinin-containing neurones and possibly other sources.
1993.Brain Res., 609(1-2):137-48.