Serotoninergic afferents preferentially innervate distinct subclasses of peptidergic interneurons in the rat visual cortex

Brain Res. 2001 Feb 9;891(1-2):158-67. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(00)03193-0.


Although it is well documented that the non-pyramidal neurons of the cerebral cortex are under the influence of the vast serotoninergic input, the ultrastructural substrate for such functional interactions appears largely obscure. We sought to address this issue by dual immunoelectron microscopy, combining antibodies against serotonin (5-HT) and three neurochemical markers for peptidergic interneurons, namely somatostatin (SRIF), neuropeptide Y (NPY) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP). The gold-substituted silver-peroxidase method was employed to intensify and differentiate the end-product of the peptide-immunoreaction from the non-intensified 5-HT fibers. Mainly the SRIF but also the NPY neurons were encountered among the postsynaptic targets of the 5-HT boutons. Recipients of synapses were perikarya and proximal dendrites of SRIF and NPY cells but also distal dendrites of the SRIF neurons. Neither synaptic relationships nor close appositions were ever identified between 5-HT boutons and VIP-immunoreactive elements. This remarkable synaptic preference/avoidance of 5-HT afferents for specific peptidergic subpopulations reveals a 'wired' component of cortical serotonin neurotransmission, which should be carefully interpreted within the frame of the available literature for extrasynaptic serotonin release.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / metabolism*
  • Afferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interneurons / classification
  • Interneurons / metabolism*
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Somatostatin / metabolism*
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism*
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism*
  • Visual Cortex / ultrastructure


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Neuropeptides
  • Serotonin
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Somatostatin