The proportion of neurons immunoreactive for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and their rostrocaudal distribution in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the rat, were determined quantitatively using post-embedding GABA-immunochemistry on semithin resin embedded coronal sections followed by stereological analysis. The mean total volume numerical density of neurons (total number of neurons per mm3) in the dLGN was 67,077 ± 4412 mm-3 (mean ± SEM; n = 5), comprising a mean volume numerical density for GABA-immunopositive neurons of 14,584 ± 1324 mm-3, and a mean volume numerical density of GABA-immunonegative neurons of 52,493 ± 3419 mm-3. GABA-immunopositive neurons constituted 21.7 ± 0.5% of the total neuronal composition of the rat dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. Although no rostrocaudal variation was detected in the total volume numerical density of neurons, the relative proportion of GABA-immunopositive neurons was significantly lower in the caudal segment (18.1 ± 0.6%) compared with the middle (24.9 ± 0.9%) and the rostral segments (22.1%). Furthermore, on the basis of somatic size distributions, GABA-immunonegative neurons were seen to be significantly smaller in the caudal segment than in the more anterior two segments. The somatic size of GABA-immunopositive neurons showed no rostrocaudal variation through the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. These data provide a morphological correlate for the structural and functional subdivision of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus described previously in electrophysiological and morphological studies.
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