Neurotransmitters contained in the subcortical extraretinal inputs to the monkey lateral geniculate nucleus

J Comp Neurol. 2000 Sep 4;424(4):701-17. doi: 10.1002/1096-9861(20000904)424:4<701::aid-cne11>;2-b.


The lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) is the thalamic relay of retinal information to cortex. An extensive complement of nonretinal inputs to the LGN combine to modulate the responsiveness of relay cells to their retinal inputs, and thus control the transfer of visual information to cortex. These inputs have been studied in the most detail in the cat. The goal of the present study was to determine whether the neurotransmitters used by nonretinal afferents to the monkey LGN are similar to those identified in the cat. By combining the retrograde transport of tracers injected into the monkey LGN with immunocytochemical labeling for choline acetyl transferase, brain nitric oxide synthase, glutamic acid decarboxylase, tyrosine hydroxylase, or the histochemical nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase reaction, we determined that the organization of neurotransmitter inputs to the monkey LGN is strikingly similar to the patterns occurring in the cat. In particular, we found that the monkey LGN receives a significant cholinergic/nitrergic projection from the pedunculopontine tegmentum, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic projections from the thalamic reticular nucleus and pretectum, and a cholinergic projection from the parabigeminal nucleus. The major difference between the innervation of the LGN in the cat and the monkey is the absence of a noradrenergic projection to the monkey LGN. The segregation of the noradrenergic cells and cholinergic cells in the monkey brainstem also differs from the intermingled arrangement found in the cat brainstem. Our findings suggest that studies of basic mechanisms underlying the control of visual information flow through the LGN of the cat may relate directly to similar issues in primates, and ultimately, humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Afferent Pathways / cytology
  • Afferent Pathways / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / metabolism*
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology
  • Geniculate Bodies / metabolism*
  • Macaca mulatta / anatomy & histology*
  • Macaca mulatta / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Acetylcholine
  • Norepinephrine