Medial septal and median raphe innervation of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing interneurons in the hippocampus

Neuroscience. 1999 May;90(2):369-82. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(98)00455-2.


Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive interneurons are known to form three anatomically and neurochemically well-characterized neuron populations in the hippocampus. Two of these establish synaptic contacts selectively with other GABAergic cells (interneuron-selective cells), whereas the third type innervates pyramidal cell bodies and proximal dendrites like a conventional basket cell. Our aim was to examine which of the vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing interneuron populations are among the targets of GABAergic septohippocampal and serotonergic raphe-hippocampal pathways. Anterograde tracing with Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin combined with double immunocytochemistry for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide was used at the light and electron microscopic levels. Our results show that both interneuron-selective cells and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing basket cells receive synaptic input from the medial septum and median raphe nucleus. The GABAergic component of the septohippocampal pathway establishes multiple contacts on both cell types. In the case of the raphe-hippocampal projection, single or double contacts were more frequent on vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-positive interneuron selective cells (76%), whereas multiple contacts predominated on basket cells (83%). The extrinsic GABAergic innervation of interneuron-selective cells in the hippocampus indicates a complex interaction among GABAergic systems, which might ensure the timing and rhythmic synchronization of inhibitory processes in the hippocampus. On the other hand, our results suggest that the serotonergic effect on perisomatic inhibition is exerted via vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing basket cells that are functionally distinct from their parvalbumin-positive relatives, which appear to escape control of serotonergic as well as local interneuron-selective cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / cytology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Raphe Nuclei / cytology
  • Raphe Nuclei / physiology*
  • Raphe Nuclei / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Septum Pellucidum / cytology
  • Septum Pellucidum / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / analysis*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid