Mesolimbic dopaminergic neurons innervating the hippocampal formation in the rat: a combined retrograde tracing and immunohistochemical study

Brain Res. 1994 Dec 30;668(1-2):71-9. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(94)90512-6.


A major mesolimbic projection towards the hippocampal formation (HF) has been extensively described, but no clear evidence of its dopaminergic content has been demonstrated. In order to evaluate the percentage of dopaminergic (DA) cells of ventral tegmental area (VTA-A10) and adjacent substantia nigra (SN-A9) projecting to the HF, the retrograde neuronal tracer technique was combined with the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunocytochemistry. Fluoro-gold (FG) was injected in several areas (subiculum, CA1, CA3, dentate gyrus) of either septal and temporal HF. Sections containing retrogradely FG labeled neurons were either mounted directly as controls or incubated with TH antiserum and revealed with rhodamine. The quantitative evaluation of retrogradely labeled and TH-IR stained cells showed that both VTA and SN projections towards the HF are partially (15-18%) dopaminergic. Ten percent of the DA neurons of the VTA projected to contralateral HF, whereas none did in the SN. In conclusion, the temporal HF (mainly subiculum and adjacent CA1) appears to receive the main DA afferents from both VTA cells and medial half of SN, pars compacta, whereas the septal HF (particularly CA1) receives its DA input from neurons located in the ventral half and in the upper and lower borders of the VTA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neurons* / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stilbamidines*
  • Substantia Nigra / chemistry
  • Substantia Nigra / cytology*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / chemistry
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / cytology*


  • 2-hydroxy-4,4'-diamidinostilbene, methanesulfonate salt
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Stilbamidines
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine