Ontogeny of the human amygdala

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Apr;985:22-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2003.tb07068.x.


Data on the fetal development of the human amygdala is reviewed with special reference to major ontogenetic events. In the fifth gestational month, the inferior portion of the amygdala reveals cell-dense columns merging with the ganglionic eminence (proliferative zone) in Nissl-stained sections. These columns contain vimentin-positive fibers and can therefore be regarded as migrational routes. In the sixth and seventh months, distinct reorganization of the cytoarchitectonics takes place. The sequential occurrence of afferens can be visualized using anti-GAP-43; moreover, outgrowing axons appear to reach the periphery of the ganglionic eminence. The latter may thus represent an intermediate target for growing axons using anti-calbindin and anti-calretinin. Migrating and immature amygdaloid neurons can be shown in the fifth month. From the eighth month onwards, various nonpyramidal neurons and pyramidal neurons are immunolabeled. Transient expression of calretinin in pyramidal neurons is observed. When punctate calbindin and calretinin immunostaining in the fifth and eighth months is compared, distinct redistribution is observed. On the whole, it is apparent that the amygdala has reached a high degree of maturity in the eighth month. At this developmental stage, AKAP79, being enriched in postsynaptic densities, shows a characteristic nuclear-specific distribution pattern. The latter largely corresponds to the expression pattern of NMDAR1. Thus, AKAP79 may have a preference for anchoring enzymes to glutamate receptors. The aforementioned results provide a basis for investigations on subtle changes in pathologically altered material, such as hemorrhage, in the ganglionic eminence of preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / embryology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins