Selective Thalamic Innervation of Rat Frontal Cortical Neurons

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Abstract

Most glutamatergic inputs in the neocortex originate from the thalamus or neocortical pyramidal cells. To test whether thalamocortical afferents selectively innervate specific cortical cell subtypes and surface domains, we investigated the distribution patterns of thalamocortical and corticocortical excitatory synaptic inputs in identified postsynaptic cortical cell subtypes using intracellular and immunohistochemical staining combined with confocal laser scanning and electron microscopic observations in 2 thalamorecipient sublayers, lower layer 2/3 (L2/3b) and lower layer 5 (L5b) of rat frontal cortex. The dendrites of GABAergic parvalbumin (PV) cells preferentially received corticocortical inputs in both sublayers. The somata of L2/3b PV cells received thalamic inputs in similar proportions to the basal dendritic spines of L2/3b pyramidal cells, whereas L5b PV somata were mostly innervated by cortical inputs. The basal dendrites of L2/3b pyramidal and L5b corticopontine pyramidal cells received cortical and thalamic glutamatergic inputs in proportion to their local abundance, whereas crossed-corticostriatal pyramidal cells in L5b exhibited a preference for thalamic inputs, particularly in their distal dendrites. Our data demonstrate an exquisite selectivity among thalamocortical afferents in which synaptic connectivity is dependent on the postsynaptic neuron subtype, cortical sublayer, and cell surface domain.

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