Different populations of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive interneurons are specialized to control pyramidal cells or interneurons in the hippocampus

Neuroscience. 1996 Jul;73(2):317-34. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(95)00609-5.


The postsynaptic targets of three vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing GABAergic interneuron types were examined in the rat hippocampus. Two of them showed remarkable target selectivity for other GABAergic neurons, while the third contacted the somata and proximal dendrites of pyramidal cells. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-positive interneurons innervating the stratum oriens/alveus border in the CA1 region were shown to establish multiple contacts with horizontal GABAergic interneurons immunoreactive for type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptor. Similarly, identified axons of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-positive interneurons projecting to stratum radiatum were found to establish symmetrical synapses largely on GABAergic dendrites. The majority of these postsynaptic GABAergic neurons were shown to contain calbindin or vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. In contrast to the first two vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing cell populations, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-positive interneurons arborizing in stratum pyramidale formed baskets around pyramidal cells. These results revealed a new element in cortical microcircuits, interneurons which are specialized to innervate other GABAergic interneurons. The role of this new component may be the synchronization of dendritic inhibition, or an input-specific disinhibition of pyramidal cells in various dendritic domains. In contrast, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-containing basket cells are likely to be involved in perisomatic inhibition of pyramidal neurons, and represents a new basket cell type different from that containing parvalbumin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interneurons / cytology*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / analysis*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis


  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid