Immunohistochemical characterization of cholecystokinin containing neurons in the rat basolateral amygdala

Brain Res. 2003 Jun 27;976(2):171-84. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(03)02625-8.


Specific neuronal populations in the basolateral amygdala (ABL) exhibit immunoreactivity for distinct neuropeptides and calcium-binding proteins. In the present study, immunohistochemical techniques were used to analyze neurons in the rat ABL that contain cholecystokinin (CCK). Some pyramidal projection neurons in the anterior subdivision of the basolateral nucleus exhibited low levels of CCK immunoreactivity in rats that received injections of colchicine to interrupt axonal transport; staining was concentrated in the axon initial segments of these cells. High levels of CCK immunoreactivity were observed in two subpopulations of nonpyramidal interneurons in all nuclei of the ABL: (1) type L neurons (characterized by large somata and thick dendrites), and (2) type S neurons (characterized by small somata and thin dendrites). Dual-labeling immunofluorescence studies using confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed that many (30-40%) type L CCK+ interneurons exhibited immunoreactivity for calbindin (CB), but not for parvalbumin (PV), calretinin (CR), or vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP). In contrast, there was extensive colocalization of CR and VIP with CCK in type S neurons, but no significant colocalization with CB or PV. In addition, the majority of CR and VIP interneurons exhibited colocalization of both neurochemicals. Collectively, the results of this and previous studies indicate that there are at least four distinct interneuronal subpopulations in the ABL: (1) PV+ neurons (the great majority of which are CB+); (2) SOM+ neurons (many of which are CB+ and NPY+); (3) large CCK+ neurons (some of which are CB+); and (4) small bipolar/bitufted neurons that exhibit various amounts of colocalization of CCK, VIP, and CR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / chemistry*
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Animals
  • Calbindins
  • Cholecystokinin / analysis*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Interneurons / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Parvalbumins / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / analysis
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / analysis


  • Calbindins
  • Parvalbumins
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Cholecystokinin