Synaptic organization of immunocytochemically identified GABA neurons in the monkey sensory-motor cortex

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Neurons in the monkey somatic sensory and motor cortex were labelled immunocytochemically for the GABA synthesizing enzyme, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and examined with the electron microscope. The somata and dendrites of many large GAD-positive neurons of layers III-VI receive numerous asymmetric synapses from unlabelled terminals and symmetric synapses from GAD-positive terminals. Comparisons with light and electron microscopic studies of Golgi-impregnated neurons suggest that the large labelled neurons are basket cells. Small GAD-positive neurons generally receive few synapses on their somata and dendrites, and probably conform to several morphological types. GAD-positive axons form symmetric synapses on many neuronal elements including the somata, dendrites and initial segments of pyramidal cells, and the somata and dendrites of non-pyramidal cells. Synapses between GAD-positive terminals and GAD-positive cell bodies and dendrites are common in all layers. Many GAD-positive terminals in layers III-VI arise from myelinated axons. Some of the axons form pericellular terminal nests on pyramidal cell somata and are interpreted as originating from basket cells while other GAD-positive myelinated axons synapse with the somata and dendrites of non-pyramidal cells. These findings suggest either that the sites of basket cell terminations are more heterogeneous than previously believed or that there are other classes of GAD-positive neurons with myelinated axons. Unmyelinated GAD-positive axons synapse with the initial segments of pyramidal cell axons or form en passant synapses with dendritic spines and small dendritic shafts and are interpreted as arising from the population of small GAD-positive neurons which appears to include several morphological types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-660
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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