Calcium-binding proteins as markers for subpopulations of GABAergic neurons in monkey striate cortex

J Comp Neurol. 1990 Aug 1;298(1):1-22. doi: 10.1002/cne.902980102.


Recent studies have shown that the presence of immunoreactivity for parvalbumin (PV-IR) and calbindin-D 28k (Cal-IR) can be used as markers for certain types of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) immunoreactive interneurons in monkey cerebral cortex. Little quantitative information is available regarding the features that distinguish these two subpopulations, however. Therefore, in this study we localized PV-IR and Cal-IR neurons in Macaca monkey striate cortex and analyzed quantitatively their laminar distribution, cell morphology, and co-localization with GABA by double-labeling immunocytochemistry. PV-IR was found in nonpyramidal cells in all layers of the cortex, although PV-IR cells in layer 1 were rare. In contrast, Cal-IR was found mainly in nonpyramidal cells in two bands corresponding to layers 2-3 and 5-6. We found very few double-labeled PV-IR/Cal-IR cells but confirmed that almost all PV-IR and Cal-IR cells are GABAergic. Overall, 74% of GABA neurons in striate cortex displayed PV-IR compared to only 12% that displayed Cal-IR and 14% that were GABA-IR only. Quantitative analysis indicated that the relative proportion of GABA cells that displayed PV-IR or Cal-IR showed conspicuous laminar differences, which were often complementary. Cell size measurements indicated that PV-IR/GABA cells in layers 2-3 and 5-6 were significantly larger than Cal-IR/GABA cells. Analysis of the size, shape, and orientation of stained cell bodies and proximal dendrites further demonstrated that each subpopulation contained several different types of smooth stellate cells, suggesting that Cal-IR and PV-IR are found in functionally and morphologically heterogeneous subpopulations of GABA neurons. There was a thick bundle of PV-IR axons in the white matter underlying the striate but not prestriate cortex. PV-IR punctate labeling matched the cytochrome oxidase staining pattern in layers 4A and 4C, suggesting that PV-IR is present in geniculocortical afferents as well as intrinsic neurons. Cal-IR neuropil staining was high in layers 1, 2, 4B, and 5, where cytochrome oxidase staining is relatively low. We did not find a preferential localization of either PV-IR or Cal-IR cell bodies in any cytochrome oxidase compartments in layers 2-3 of the cortex. These findings indicate that PV and Cal are distributed into different neuronal circuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / chemistry*
  • Calbindins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / analysis
  • Female
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Parvalbumins / analysis
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / analysis*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Calbindins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Parvalbumins
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Electron Transport Complex IV