Topographical and Synaptic Organization of the GABA-Containing Pallidosubthalamic Projection in the Rat.
The anterograde transport of Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) was combined with postembedding immunocytochemistry for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to study the topography, the synaptic organization and the neurotransmitter content of the pallidosubthalamic projection in the rat. After injections of PHA-L in different parts of the globus pallidus a rich plexus of anterogradely labelled fibres and terminals was found in the ipsilateral subthalamic nucleus. The immunoreactive elements were distributed according to a mediolateral and rostrocaudal topography. Injections of PHA-L restricted to the lateral two-thirds of the globus pallidus gave rise to a massive anterograde labelling confined to the lateral half of the subthalamic nucleus. On the other hand, injections of PHA-L strictly confined to the medial part of the globus pallidus resulted in anterograde labelling that occupied the ventromedial pole of the subthalamic nucleus. In some cases a few retrogradely labelled cells were found in the subthalamic nucleus after PHA-L injections in the globus pallidus. The perikarya and the primary dendrites of these labelled cells were sometimes surrounded by anterogradely labelled terminals suggesting a close reciprocal connection between the globus pallidus and the subthalamic nucleus. Electron microscopic analysis of the PHA-L-labelled terminals revealed that they contain many mitochondria, numerous small round or slightly pleomorphic vesicles and occasionally one or two large dense core vesicles. They form symmetrical synaptic contacts predominantly with the proximal dendrites (39%) and less frequently with the perikarya (31%) and the distal dendrites (30%) of the subthalamic cells. Quantitative measurements showed that the pallidosubthalamic varicosities have a diameter ranging from 0.7 to 4.5 microm and a mean cross-sectional area of 0.79 +/- 0.26 microm2 (Mean +/- SD). Postembedding immunocytochemistry for GABA revealed that the PHA-L-immunoreactive pallidosubthalamic axon terminals display GABA immunoreactivity. The results of our study demonstrate that the pallidosubthalamic projection is organized according to a mediolateral and rostrocaudal topography and that the proximal dendrites of the subthalamic cells are the major targets of the GABA-immunoreactive pallidosubthalamic terminals. This suggests that the globus pallidus exerts a powerful control over the subthalamic cells through an inhibitory GABAergic pathway.
1990.Eur. J. Neurosci., 2(6):500-511.