The habenula-targeting neurons in the mouse entopeduncular nucleus contain not only somatostatin-positive neurons but also nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons

Brain Struct Funct. 2021 Jun;226(5):1497-1510. doi: 10.1007/s00429-021-02264-1. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


The entopeduncular nucleus (EPN) in rodents is one of the two major output nuclei of the basal ganglia and corresponds to the internal segment of the globus pallidus in primates. Previous studies have shown that the EPN contains three types of neurons that project to different targets, namely, parvalbumin (PV)-, somatostatin (SOM)-, and choline acetyltransferase-positive neurons. However, we have recently reported that neurons lacking immunoreactivities for these substances are present in the EPN. Here, we demonstrate that 27.7% of all EPN neurons showed immunoreactivity for nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Among them, NOS-only positive and NOS/SOM double-positive neurons accounted for 20.1% and 6.8%, respectively, whereas NOS/PV double-positive neurons were rarely observed. NOS-containing neurons were distributed in a shell region surrounding the thalamus-targeting, PV-rich core region of the EPN, especially in the ventromedial part of the shell. The retrograde tracer fluoro-gold (FG) was injected into several target regions of EPN neurons. Among FG-labeled EPN neurons after injection into the lateral habenula (LHb), NOS-only positive, NOS/SOM double-positive, and SOM-only positive neurons accounted for 25.7%, 15.2%, and 59.1%, respectively. We conclude that NOS-positive neurons are the second major population of LHb-targeting EPN neurons, suggesting their possible involvement in behaviors in response to aversive stimuli.

Keywords: Basal ganglia; Connectivity; Fluoro-gold; Immunohistochemistry.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Entopeduncular Nucleus* / metabolism
  • Habenula / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Somatostatin / metabolism


  • Parvalbumins
  • Somatostatin
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase