The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is a key brain region for the perception of pain and emotion. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of the ACC are usually investigated in rodents such as mice and rats. Studies of synaptic mechanisms in primates are limited. To facilitate the translation of basic results from rodents to humans, it is critical to use a primate-like animal model for the investigation of the ACC. The tree shrew presents a great opportunity for this as they have similar genome sequences to primates and are considered to have many similarities to primates. In the present study, by combining anatomy, immunostaining and micro-optical sectioning tomography methods, we examined the morphological properties of the ACC in the tree shrew and compared them with the mouse and rat. We found that the ACC in the tree shrew is significantly larger than those found in the mouse and rat. The sizes of cell bodies of ACC pyramidal cells in tree shrew are also larger than that found in the mouse or rat. Furthermore, there are significantly more apical/basal dendritic branches and apical dendritic spines of ACC pyramidal neurons in tree shrew. These results demonstrate that pyramidal cells of the ACC in tree shrews are more advanced than those found in rodents (mice and rats), indicating that the tree shrew can be used as a useful animal model for studying the cellular mechanism for ACC-related physiological and pathological changes in humans.
Keywords: Tree shrew; anterior cingulated cortex; mouse; pain; pleasure; pyramidal cell; rat.