Ultrastructural analysis of synaptic relationships of intracellularly stained pyramidal cell axons in piriform cortex

J Comp Neurol. 1986 Jun 22;248(4):464-74. doi: 10.1002/cne.902480403.


Axons of pyramidal cells in piriform cortex stained by intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) have been analyzed by light and electron microscopy. Myelinated primary axons give rise to extensive, very fine caliber (0.2 micron) unmyelinated collaterals with stereotyped radiating branching patterns. Serial section electron microscopic analysis of the stained portions of the collateral systems (initial 1-2 mm) revealed that they give rise to synaptic contacts on dendritic spines and shafts. These synapses typically contain compact clusters of large, predominantly spherical synaptic vesicles subjacent to asymmetrical contacts with heavy postsynaptic densities. On the basis of comparisons with Golgi material and intracellularly stained dendrites, it was concluded that dendritic spines receiving synapses from the proximal portions of pyramidal cell axon collaterals originate primarily from pyramidal cell basal dendrites. Postsynaptic dendritic shafts contacted closely resemble dendrites of probable GABAergic neurons identified in antibody and [3H]-GABA uptake studies. Electron microscopic examination of pyramidal cell axon initial segments revealed a high density of symmetrical synaptic contacts on their surfaces. Synaptic vesicles in the presynaptic boutons were small and flattened. It is concluded that pyramidal cells synaptically interact over short distances with other pyramidal cells via basal dendrites and with deep nonpyramidal cells that probably include GABAergic cells mediating a feedback inhibition. This contrasts with long associational projections of pyramidal cells that terminate predominantly on apical dendrites of other pyramidal cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure*
  • Central Nervous System / ultrastructure*
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Olfactory Pathways / ultrastructure*
  • Opossums
  • Staining and Labeling / methods
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*