Fine structure and synaptic connections of the common spiny neuron of the rat neostriatum: a study employing intracellular inject of horseradish peroxidase

J Comp Neurol. 1980 Dec 1;194(3):599-615. doi: 10.1002/cne.901940308.


Medium-sized spiny neurons of the neostriatum, identified by intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase, were examined at both light and electron microscopic levels. These neurons were characterized by their heavy investment of dentritic spines, beginning about 20 micron from the soma and continuing to the tips of the dendrites. Their axons arose from the soma or from a large dendritic trunk very near the soma, and tapered rapidly to form a main axonal branch from which arose several smaller initial collaterals. These arborized extensively throughout an area of about the same size as, and highly overlapping with, the dendritic field of the cell, while the main axon could be followed for distances of up to 1 mm in the direction of the globus pallidus. Three major synaptic types were seen in contact with spiny neurons. Boutons containing small round synaptic vesicles formed synapses exclusively with spiny regions of the dendrites, and most of these were axo-spinous. Small, very pleomorphic synaptic vesicles characterized a second bouton type of unknown origin, which made contacts with somata, initial segments, and dendrites, but not dendritic spines. Boutons containing large pleomorphic synaptic vesicles had the most widespread distribution, contacting all regions including dendritic spines. Spines receiving these contacts also were postsynaptic to boutons containing small round vesicles. Axon collaterals of spiny cells formed synapses with large pleomorphic vesicles and made synapses with somata, initial segments of axons, dendrites, and dendritic spines of striatal neurons, including other spiny cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Caudate Nucleus / ultrastructure*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Putamen / ultrastructure*
  • Rats
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase