The synaptology of parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons in the primate prefrontal cortex

J Comp Neurol. 1992 Jun 15;320(3):353-69. doi: 10.1002/cne.903200307.


Electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry with a monoclonal antibody against parvalbumin (PV) were combined to analyze the distribution and morphology of PV-immunoreactive (PV-IR) neurons and the synaptology of PV-IR processes in the principal sulcus of the macaque prefrontal cortex. Parvalbumin-IR neurons are present in layers II-VI of the macaque principal sulcus (Walker's area 46) and are concentrated in a band centered around layer IV. PV-IR cells are exclusively non-pyramidal in shape and are morphologically heterogeneous with soma sizes ranging from less than 10 microns to greater than 20 microns. Well-labeled neurons that could be classified on the basis of soma size and dendritic configuration resembled large basket and chandelier cells. A novel finding is that supragranular PV-IR neurons exhibit dendritic patterns with predominantly vertical orientations, whereas infragranular cells exhibit mostly horizontal or oblique dendritic orientations. PV-IR cells within layer IV exhibit a mixture of dendritic arrangements. Vertical rows of PV-IR puncta, 15-30 microns in length, resembling the "cartridges" of chandelier cell axons were most dense in layers II, superficial III, and the granular layer IV but were not observed in the infragranular layers. Cartridges were often present beneath unlabeled, presumed pyramidal cells. PV-IR puncta also formed pericellular nests around pyramidal cell somata and proximal dendrites, suggestive of basket cell innervation. PV-IR axons were occasionally observed in the white matter underlying the principal sulcus. Electron microscopic analysis revealed that PV-IR somata and dendrites are densely innervated by nonimmunoreactive terminals forming asymmetric (Gray type I) synapses as well as by fewer terminals forming symmetric (Gray type II) synapses. The majority of terminals forming symmetric synapses with PV-IR post-synaptic structures were not immunolabeled; however, some of these boutons did contain PV-immunoreactivity. PV-IR boutons exclusively form symmetric synapses and heavily innervate layer II/III pyramidal cells. PV-IR axon cartridges formed numerous axo-axonic synapses with the axon initial segments of pyramidal cells 15-20 microns beneath the axon hillock and also terminated on large axonal spines of the initial segment. Furthermore, we failed to observe a mixture of PV-immunoreactive and non-immunoreactive boutons composing a single axon cartridge. Pyramidal cell somata and proximal dendrites were also heavily innervated by PV-IR boutons forming symmetric synapses, again, consistent with basket cell innervation. In addition, PV-IR axon terminals frequently formed symmetric synapses with dendritic shafts and spines of unidentified neurons.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Afferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macaca mulatta / anatomy & histology*
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Parvalbumins / analysis*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*


  • Parvalbumins