Neurochemical fingerprinting of amygdalostriatal and intra-amygdaloid projections: a tracing-immunofluorescence study in the rat

Floris G Wouterlood, Sanne van Oort, Lucian Bloemhard, Nico A Flierman, Jorik Spijkerman, Christopher I Wright, Jeroen A M Beliën, Hendrik J Groenewegen

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Amygdalostriatal and intra-amygdaloid fiber connectivity was studied in rats via injections of one of the tracers Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) or biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) into various amygdaloid nuclei. To determine the neurotransmitter identity of labeled fibers we combined tracer detection with immunofluorescence staining, using antibodies against vesicular transporters (VTs) associated with glutamatergic (VGluT1, VGluT2) or GABAergic (VGAT) neurotransmission. High-magnification confocal laser scanning images were screened for overlap: occurrence inside tracer labeled fibers or axon terminals of immunofluorescence signal associated with one of the VTs. Labeled amygdalostriatal fibers were seen when tracer had been injected into the magnocellular and parvicellular portions of the basal amygdaloid nucleus and the lateral amygdaloid nucleus (nuclei belonging to 'cortical type' amygdaloid nuclei). Intra-amygdaloidal projection fibers were mostly found after tracer injections in the central and medial amygdaloid nuclei ('striatal type' amygdaloid nuclei). Terminals of tracer-labeled amygdalostriatal fibers contained immunofluorescence signal associated mostly with VGluT1 and to a lesser degree with VGluT2 or VGAT. Intra-amygdaloid labeled fibers showed colocalization mostly of VGluT1, followed by VGAT. VGluT2 co-occurred in a minority of intra-amygdaloid tracer-containing fiber terminals. We conclude from our observations that both amygdalostriatal and intra-amygdaloid projections, arising from, respectively, 'cortical type' and 'striatal type' amygdaloid nuclei contain strong glutamatergic and modest GABAergic components. The glutamatergic fibers express either VGluT1 or VGluT2. The absence in large numbers of tracer labeled fibers of expression of one of the selected VTs leads us to suspect that amygdalostriatal projection fibers may contain hitherto neglected neurotransmitters in these connections, e.g., aspartate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-172
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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