Neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) were iontophoretically injected with biotin dextran and their anterogradely labeled axons individually reconstructed from serial sagittal sections. Most nigrostriatal axons travelled directly to the striatum, where they branched abundantly. Other axons arborized profusely in various extrastriatal structures, including the globus pallidus, the entopeduncular and subthalamic nuclei, and branched only sparsely in the striatum. This heterogeneous organization of the nigrostriatal projection allows single SNc neurons to influence differently striatal neurons and to act directly upon extrastriatal components of the basal ganglia via a highly patterned set of collaterals.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.