Morphological diversity of immunocytochemically identified GABA neurons in the monkey sensory-motor cortex

C. R. Houser, S. H.C. Hendry, E. G. Jones, J. E. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


GABAergic neurons have been identified in monkey sensory-motor cerebral cortex by light microscopic, immunocytochemical localization of the GABA synthesizing enzyme, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). All GAD-positive neurons are non-pyramidal cells. Their somata are present in all layers and are evenly distributed across layers II-VI of the motor cortex (area 4), but are found in greater concentrations in layers II, IV and VI of all areas of first somatic sensory cortex (SI; areas 3a, 3b and 1-2). GAD-positive puncta (putative axon terminals) are present throughout the sensory-motor cortex, and they are found immediately adjacent to the somata, dendrites and presumptive axon initial segments of GAD-negative pyramidal cells. In addition, they are observed in close approximation to the somata of both large and small GAD-positive neurons. In area 4, the density of puncta is highest in the superficial cortical layers (layers I-III) and gradually declines throughout the deeper layers. In SI, the highest densities of puncta are present in layer IV, while moderately high densities are found in layers I-III and VI. In areas 3a and 3b, the puncta in layers IV and VI are particularly numerous and form foci that exhibit greater density than adjacent regions. GAD-positive neurons with large somata, 15-33 μ in diameter, are present in layers IIIB-VI of all areas. Such cells have many primary dendrites that radiate in all directions. In addition they have axons that ascend either from the superficial aspect of the somata or from primary dendrites, and that exhibit horizontal collateral branches. These neurons closely resemble the large basket cells (Marin-Padilla, 1969; Jones, 1975), and they may give rise to many of the GAD-positive endings surrounding the somata and proximal dendrites of pyramidal cells in layers III-VI. In addition, small GAD-positive somata are present in all layers, but they are most numerous in layers II and IIIA of all areas and in layer IV of SI. The somata and proximal dendrites of these cells vary from a multipolar shape with small, beaded dendrites, found primarily in layer IV, to bitufted and multipolar shapes with larger, smooth dendrites. The diversity of somal sizes and locations, the variety of dendritic patterns, and the different distributions of GAD-positive puncta, all combine to suggest that several different morphological classes of intrinsic comprise the GABA neurons of monkey cerebral cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-638
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Neurocytology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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