Soma size distinguishes projection neurons from neurokinin 1 receptor-expressing interneurons in lamina I of the rat lumbar spinal dorsal horn

Al Ghamdi, K.S., Polgár, E. and Todd, A. (2009) Soma size distinguishes projection neurons from neurokinin 1 receptor-expressing interneurons in lamina I of the rat lumbar spinal dorsal horn. Neuroscience, 164(4), pp. 1794-1804. (doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.09.071)

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Lamina I of the spinal dorsal horn contains neurons that project to various brain regions, and ∼80% of these projection cells express the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1r), the main receptor for substance P. Two populations of NK1r-immunoreactive neurons have been identified in lamina I: small weakly immunoreactive cells and large cells with strong immunolabelling [Cheunsuang O and Morris R (2000) Neuroscience 97:335–345]. The main aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the large cells are projection neurons and that the small cells are interneurons. Projection neurons were identified by injection of tracers into the caudal ventrolateral medulla and lateral parabrachial area, and this was combined with immunostaining for NK1r. We found a bimodal size distribution for NK1r-immunoreactive neurons. The small cells (with somatic cross-sectional areas <200 μm2) showed weak immunoreactivity, while immunostaining intensity was variable among the large cells. Virtually all (99%) of the immunoreactive cells with soma areas >200 μm2 were retrogradely labelled, while only 10% of retrogradely labelled cells were smaller than this. Soma sizes of retrogradely labelled neurons that lacked NK1r did not differ from those of NK1r-expressing projection neurons. It has been suggested that a population of small pyramidal projection neurons that lack NK1r may correspond to cells activated by innocuous cooling, and we therefore assessed the morphology of retrogradely labelled cells that were not NK1r-immunoreactive. Fifteen percent of these were pyramidal, but these did not differ in size from pyramidal NK1r-immunoreactive projection neurons. These results confirm that large NK1r-immunoreactive lamina I neurons are projection cells, and suggest that the small cells are interneurons. Since almost all of the NK1r-immunoreactive cells with soma size >200 μm2 were retrogradely labelled, cells of this type can be identified as projection cells in anatomical studies.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Beresford-Polgar, Dr Erika and Todd, Professor Andrew
Authors: Al Ghamdi, K.S., Polgár, E., and Todd, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Neuroscience
Published Online:01 October 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 The Authors
First Published:First published in Neuroscience 164(4):1794-1804
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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