Morphological correlates of triadic circuitry in the lateral geniculate nucleus of cats and rats

J Neurophysiol. 2005 Feb;93(2):748-57. doi: 10.1152/jn.00256.2004.


We used an in vitro slice preparation of the lateral geniculate nucleus in cats and rats to study morphological correlates of triadic circuitry in relay cells. The three triadic elements involve a retinal synapse onto a GABAergic dendritic terminal of an interneuron, a synapse from the same retinal terminal onto a relay cell dendrite, and a synapse from the same interneuron terminal onto the same relay cell dendrite. We made whole cell recordings and labeled cells with biocytin. Previous methods were used to identify triadic circuitry based on evidence that the retinal terminal activates a metabotropic glutamate receptor on the interneuronal terminal. Thus application of (+/-)-1-aminocyclopentane-trans-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (an agonist to that receptor) increases the rate of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) recorded in the relay cell, and if some of this increase remains with further addition of TTX (a TTX-insensitive response), a triad is indicated. We quantified the extent of the TTX-insensitive response and sought morphological correlates. In both rats and cats, this response correlated (negatively) with the number of primary dendrites and (positively) with polarity of the dendritic arbor. There was no correlation with cell size. Curiously, in cats, this response correlated with the presence of appendages at primary dendritic branches, but there was no such correlation in rats. These observations in cats map onto the X/Y classification, with X cells having triads, but it is not clear from our results if a comparable classification exists for rats.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / drug effects
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Nerve Net / cytology*
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • Tetrodotoxin