Certain GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex, basket cells, establish multiple connections with cell bodies that typically outline the somata and proximal dendrites of pyramidal cells. During studies into the distribution of the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT) in the human cerebral cortex, we were struck by the presence of a very dense, pericellular arrangement of multiple VGAT-immunoreactive (-ir) terminals in certain cortical areas. We called these terminals "Complex basket formations" (Cbk-formations) to distinguish them from the simpler and more typical pericellular GABAergic innervations of most cortical neurons. Here we examined the distribution of these VGAT-ir Cbk-formations in various cortical areas, including the somatosensory (area 3b), visual (areas 17 and 18), motor (area 4), associative frontal (dorsolateral areas 9, 10, 45, 46, and orbital areas 11, 12, 13, 14, 47), associative temporal (areas 20, 21, 22, and 38), and limbic cingulate areas (areas 24, 32). Furthermore, we used dual or triple staining techniques to study the chemical nature of the innervated cells. We found that VGAT-ir Cbk-formations were most frequently found in area 4 followed by areas 3b, 13, and 18. In addition, they were mostly observed in layer III, except in area 17, where they were most dense in layer IV. We also found that 70% of the innervated neurons were pyramidal cells, while the remaining 30% were multipolar cells. Most of these multipolar cells expressed the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin and the lectin Vicia villosa agglutinin.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.