Pedunculopontine nucleus in the squirrel monkey: distribution of cholinergic and monoaminergic neurons in the mesopontine tegmentum with evidence for the presence of glutamate in cholinergic neurons

J Comp Neurol. 1994 Jun 8;344(2):190-209. doi: 10.1002/cne.903440203.


The topographical relationships between cholinergic neurons, identified by their immunoreactivity for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) or their staining for beta-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase, and dopaminergic, serotoninergic, noradrenergic, and glutamatergic neurons that occur in the mesopontine tegmentum, were studied in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus). The ChAT-positive neurons in the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) form two distinct subpopulations, one that corresponds to PPN pars compacta (PPNc) and the other to PPN pars dissipata (PPNd). The ChAT-positive neurons in PPNc are clustered along the dorsolateral border of the superior cerebellar peduncle (SP) at trochlear nucleus levels, whereas those in PPNd are scattered along the SP from midmesencephalic to midpontine levels. At levels caudal to the trochlear nucleus, ChAT-positive neurons corresponding to the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (LDT) lie within the periaqueductal gray and extend caudally as far as locus coeruleus levels. All ChAT-positive neurons in PPN and LDT stain for NADPH-diaphorase; the majority of large neurons in PPN and LDT are cholinergic, but some large neurons devoid of NADPH-diaphorase also occur in these nuclei. Cholinergic neurons in the mesopontine tegmentum form clusters that are largely segregated from raphe serotonin-immunoreactive neurons, as well as from nigral dopaminergic and coeruleal noradrenergic neurons, as revealed by tyrosine hydroxylase immunohistochemistry. Nevertheless, dendrites of cholinergic and noradrenergic neurons are closely intermingled, suggesting the possibility of dendrodendritic contacts. In addition, numerous large and medium-sized glutamate-immunoreactive neurons are intermingled among cholinergic neurons in PPN. Furthermore, at trochlear nucleus levels, about 40% of cholinergic neurons display glutamate immunoreactivity, whereas other neurons express glutamate or ChAT immunoreactivity only. This study demonstrates that 1) cholinergic neurons remain largely segregated from monoaminergic neurons throughout the mesopontine tegmentum and 2) PPN contains cholinergic and glutamatergic neurons as well as neurons coexpressing ChAT and glutamate in primates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pons / cytology
  • Pons / metabolism*
  • Saimiri / metabolism*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / cytology
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Glutamates
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase