The medial nucleus of the amygdala (MeA) plays a key role in innate emotional behaviors by relaying olfactory information to hypothalamic nuclei involved in reproduction and defense. However, little is known about the neuronal components of this region or their role in the olfactory-processing circuitry of the amygdala. Here, we have characterized neurons in the posteroventral division of the medial amygdala (MePV) using the GAD67-GFP mouse. Based on their electrophysiological properties and GABA expression, unsupervised cluster analysis divided MePV neurons into three types of GABAergic (Types 1-3) and two non-GABAergic cells (Types I and II). All cell types received olfactory synaptic input from the accessory olfactory bulb and, with the exception of Type 2 GABAergic neurons, sent projections to both reproductive and defensive hypothalamic nuclei. Type 2 GABAergic cells formed a chemically and electrically interconnected network of local circuit inhibitory interneurons that resembled neurogliaform cells of the piriform cortex and provided feedforward inhibition of the olfactory-processing circuitry of the MeA. These findings provide a description of the cellular organization and connectivity of the MePV and further our understanding of amygdala circuits involved in olfactory processing and innate emotions.
Keywords: amygdala; predator; reproductive; smell.
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