The basal forebrain magnocellular complex of primates is defined by the presence of large, hyperchromic, usually cholinergic neurons in the nucleus basalis of Meynert and nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca. Because there is growing evidence for noncholinergic neuronal elements in the basal forebrain complex, five neuropeptides and the enzyme choline acetyltransferase were studied immunocytochemically in this region of rhesus monkeys. Galaninlike immunoreactivity coexists with choline‐acetyl‐transferase‐like immunoreactivity in most large neurons and in some smaller neurons of the primate nucleus basalis and nucleus of the diagnonal band. Four other peptides show immunoreactivity in more limited regions of the basal forebrain complex, usually in separate smaller, noncholinergic neurons. Numerous small, somatostatinlike‐immunoreactive neurons occupy primarily anterior and intermediate segments of the nucleus basalis, especially laterally and ventrally. Somewhat fewer, small neuropeptide Y‐like‐immunoreactive somata are found in the same regions. Neurons that show neurotensinlike immunoreactivity are slightly larger than cells that contain immunoreactivity for somatostatin or neuropeptide Y, but these neurons also occur mainly in anterior and intermediate parts of the nucleus basalis. Overall, the usually small, leucine‐enkephalin‐like‐immunoreactive neurons are infrequent in the basal forebrain complex and are most abundant in the rostral intermediate nucleus basalis. Thus, neurons that appear to contain somatostatin, neuropeptide Y, neurotensin, or enkephalin mingle with cholinergic/galaninergic neurons only in some subdivisions of the nucleus basalis/nucleus of the diagonal band, and their distributions suggest that some of these small neurons could be associated with structures that overlap with cholinergic neurons of the labyrinthine basal forebrain magnocellular complex. We also have found light microscopic evidence for innervation of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons by boutons that contain galanin‐, somatostatin‐, neuropeptide Y‐, neurotensin‐, or enkephalinlike immunoreactivity. The origins and functions of these putative synapses remain to be determined.
- neuropeptide Y
- nucleus basalis of Meynert
- nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca
ASJC Scopus subject areas