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, 458 (1), 78-97

Morphologic and Cytochemical Criteria for the Identification and Delineation of Individual Subnuclei Within the Lateral Habenular Complex of the Rat

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Morphologic and Cytochemical Criteria for the Identification and Delineation of Individual Subnuclei Within the Lateral Habenular Complex of the Rat

Stefanie Geisler et al. J Comp Neurol.

Abstract

The lateral habenular complex is part of the habenular nuclei, a distinct structure in the dorsal diencephalon of all vertebrates. In contrast to the bewildering diversity of behaviors, in which the lateral habenular complex is thought to be involved, there is an astonishing lack of information concerning its cellular organization, its neuronal circuits, and the neurophysiological mechanisms, which may provide the physiological and molecular basis for its diverse biological functions. This problem may be due to an unexpected heterogeneity of the lateral habenular complex. Recently, a detailed subnuclear organization has been described (Andres et al. [1999] J Comp Neurol 407:130-150), which provides the base for a subsequent physiological and behavioral analysis of this area. Available criteria, however, can be applied to semithin sections only. To facilitate further investigations, the present work aimed to elaborate novel morphologic and immunocytochemical criteria that can be applied to conventional cryostat or Vibratome sections to allow identification and delineation of subnuclei of the lateral habenular complex. Consequently, the regional, cellular, and subcellular localization of approximately 30 different neuroactive molecules was investigated. Of these candidate molecules, gamma-aminobutyric acid-B receptor protein, Kir3.2 potassium channel protein, tyrosine hydroxylase, and neurofilament heavy chain proved to be suitable markers. Our observation suggests that the habenular subnuclei express distinct immunocytochemical characteristics. These features may be used to identify and delineate the subnuclei on conventional cryostat or Vibratome sections. From our results, it is expected that the further functional analysis of the lateral habenular complex will be facilitated considerably.

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