Cholinergic, GABAergic, and glutamate-enriched inputs from the mesopontine tegmentum to the subthalamic nucleus in the rat.

Bevan MD
Bolam JP
Scientific Abstract

In order to clarify the origin and to examine the neurochemistry and synaptology of the projection from the mesopontine tegmentum (MTg) to the subthalamic nucleus (STN), rats received discrete deposits of anterograde tracers in different regions of the MTg. Anterogradely labeled fibers were examined in the light and electron microscopes. The distribution of GABA or glutamate immunoreactivity was examined by post-embedding immunocytochemistry. The anterograde tracing demonstrated that the projection to the STN arises from at least three divisions of the MTg: the area defined by the cholinergic neurons of the pedunculopontine region (PPN-Ch 5), the more medial and largely noncholinergic midbrain extrapyramidal area (MEA) and to a lesser extent the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (LDTg). Post-embedding immunocytochemistry revealed that there are GABA-immunopositive and immunonegative components to this projection and at least a proportion of the GABA-immunonegative component is enriched in glutamate immunoreactivity. The similarity of the morphology, trajectory and synaptology of the anterogradely labeled fibers and the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-immunopositive fibers supports the proposal that at least part of the projection is cholinergic. The terminals anterogradely labeled from the MTg and the ChAT-immunoreactive terminals form asymmetrical synapses with the dendrites and spines of subthalamic neurons. Both anterogradely labeled and ChAT-positive terminals make convergent synaptic contacts with GABA-immunoreactive terminals that form symmetrical synaptic contacts and are probably derived from the globus pallidus. Taken together these findings imply that the MTg sends cholinergic, GABAergic and glutamatergic projections to the STN where at least one of the functional roles is to modulate the indirect pathway of information flow through the basal ganglia that is carried via the pallidosubthalamic projection.


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