The light and electron microscopic characterisation of identified striato-ventrotegmental projection neurons in the domestic chick (Gallus domesticus)

Szilvia E. Mezey, András Csillag

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A major projection of the medial striatum (lobus parolfactorius, LPO) of birds is the striato-ventrotegmental pathway projecting to the area ventralis tegmentalis. In the present study, we investigated the morphology and connectivity of striato-ventrotegmental neurons in the medial LPO. The neurons were identified by injecting the fluorescent retrograde tracer fast blue (FB) into the area ventralis tegmentalis. FB-labelled neurons in the LPO were targeted and iontophoretically injected with lucifer yellow (LY) in paraformaldehyde fixed slices. The fluorescent LY label in the filled neurons was then photoconverted, and the ultrastructure of cells was investigated. According to our results, the soma of striato-ventrotegmental neurons is rich in organelles, in particular rough and smooth endoplasmic reticula and they possess a large, unindented and slightly eccentric nucleus. The LY-labelled cells possess relatively few, sparsely spiny dendrites, and represent a type of medium-sized spiny projection neuron characteristic of the striata of birds. Axospinous synapses on the labelled cells are asymmetric and correspond morphologically to the glutamatergic excitatory type of terminals described previously in the LPO. Both symmetric and asymmetric axodendritic and axosomatic synapses were detected. Some symmetric synapses were GABA immunolabelled, whereas some asymmetric synapses were immunopositive to glutamate. Axon collaterals of labelled cells formed symmetric or asymmetric axodendritic synapses. Direct contact without interposing glial processes was observed between one of the FB-labelled neurons and an adjacent neuronal soma. There was also a microneuron attached to one of the labelled cells, which we identified as a neurogliaform 'dwarf' cell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-308
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2003



  • Avian brain
  • Basal ganglia
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Single-cell filling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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