Hammond C - Yelnik J




Neurones of the rat subthalamic nucleus were identified by their response to cortical stimulation and then intracellularly labelled with horseradish peroxidase. After fixation, the brains were cut serially in sagittal plane and processed by the cobalt chloride-diaminobenzidine procedure. The morphology of nine of the twenty stained neurones strictly located inside the subthalamic nucleus is described by means of quantitative parameters following light-microscopic examination and three-dimensional computer reconstruction. They were all identified as Golgi type I neurones. The somata were ovoidal in shape. A mean of four dendritic stems arose from the soma and gave rise to a mean of 27 tips. The dendrites were thin with long and pedunculated spines. The dendritic fields were ellipsoidal in shape (100 x 600 x 300 micrometer) and were parallel to the principal plane of the nucleus. The dimensions of the dendritic fields are very close to those of the nucleus, and some dendrites cross its limits. The axons gave off two branches, one going caudally and the other rostrally. The caudal-going branch of the axon of one neurone, followed into the substantia nigra, divided into several collaterals coursing dorsoventrally. The rostral-going branch was never followed up to its termination. An intranuclear axonal collateral was observed in only one case. The present data are compared with those obtained from the primate subthalamic neurons. In spite of slight differences in the pattern of dendritic branching, the neurones are similar in both species. However, major differences in the internal organization of the dendritic fields are observed. Dendrites mixing with other neuronal populations were never observed in the primate. Moreover, the relative sizes of the dendritic fields and of the nucleus are strikingly different. This gives to the primate subthalamic nucleus specific and more precisely organized afferent connections.

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