Organization and neurochemical properties of intersegmental interneurons in the lumbar enlargement of the adult rat

Liu, T.T., Bannatyne, B.A. and Maxwell, D.J. (2010) Organization and neurochemical properties of intersegmental interneurons in the lumbar enlargement of the adult rat. Neuroscience, 171(2), pp. 461-484. (doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.09.012)

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Intersegmental interneurons with relatively short axons perform an important role in the coordination of limb movement but surprisingly little is known about their organization and how they contribute to neuronal networks in the adult rat. We undertook a series of anatomical tract-tracing studies to label cell bodies and axons of intersegmental neurons in the lumbar cord and characterized their neurochemical properties by using immunocytochemistry. The b-subunit of cholera toxin was injected into L1 or L3 segments of seven rats in the vicinity of lateral or medial motor nuclei. In L5 lumbar segments, cells were found to be concentrated in contralateral lamina VIII, and in ipsilateral lamina VII and laminae V–VI following injections into the lateral and medial motor nuclei respectively. About 25% of labelled cells contained calbindin or calretinin or a combination of both. Calbindin positive cells were mainly distributed within the ipsilateral side of the L5 segment, especially within the ipsilateral dorsal horn whereas there was a concentration of calretinin cells in contralateral lamina VIII. A small population of cells around the central canal were cholinergic. We also examined axon terminals that projected from L1/3 to the L5 contralateral lateral motor nucleus. The majority of these axons were excitatory (75%) and made direct contacts with motoneurons. However, most inhibitory axons in L5 contained a mixture of GABA and glycine (20%) and about 22% of the total population of axons contained calbindin. In contrast, 19% of all intra-segmental axons in the L3 contralateral lateral motor nucleus were found to be purely glycinergic and 17% contained a mixture of GABA and glycine. This study shows that short range interneurons form extensive ipsi- and contralateral projections within the lumbar enlargement and that many of them contain calcium binding proteins. Those projecting contralaterally to motor nuclei are predominantly excitatory.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bannatyne, Dr Anne and Maxwell, Professor David
Authors: Liu, T.T., Bannatyne, B.A., and Maxwell, D.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Neuroscience
Published Online:16 September 2010

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