The catecholaminergic innervation of the rat amygdala

Adv Anat Embryol Cell Biol. 1998;142:1-118. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-72085-7.


The present study is the first to demonstrate conclusively and to analyze systematically synaptic contacts of all three types of catecholaminergic afferent fibers in different nuclei of the rat amygdala and to relate the catecholaminergic innervation to neurochemically identified target neurons. 4.1.1 Central Nucleus: The central nucleus is the amygdaloid nucleus receiving the most dense catecholaminergic innervation. In the medial central nucleus, dopaminergic, noradrenergic and adrenergic terminal plexus overlap, in the central lateral central nucleus mainly dopaminergic plexus are found. The lateral capsular central nucleus is generally scarcely innervated, but individual neurons of this subnucleus possess a dense dopaminergic innervation. Colocalization of neurotensin in dopaminergic afferents is rare, the majority of the dense neurotensin-ir terminal plexus consist of non-dopaminergic fibers. The catecholaminergic innervation of the medial central nucleus is directed preferentially at peripheral neuronal structures, and has thus presumably modulatory functions. Dopaminergic terminals form predominantly symmetric, noradrenergic and adrenergic terminals from preferentially asymmetric synapses. A characteristic feature of the dopaminergic innervation is the dense perisomatic innervation of selected neurons. Adrenergic and the majority of noradrenergic afferent fibers to the medial central nucleus originate from cell groups in the medulla oblongata and contain high levels of NPY. GAD mRNA-detection suggests that most target neurons of catecholaminergic afferent fibers are capable of synthesizing GABA in the medial central nucleus. In its dorsal part, GABA is possibly colocalized with somatostatin, and many neurons express the dopamine-1-receptor subtype mRNA. In the posteroventral medial central nucleus, on the other hand, enkephalin mRNA-r and dopamine-2-receptor subtype mRNA-reactive neurons show a similar distribution as the GAD mRNA-reactive ones. Contacts could be shown between dopaminergic, noradrenergic and adrenergic axons and NPY- and somatostatin-immunoreactive neurons which are supposedly among the brainstem projection neurons of the medial central nucleus. The dopaminergic innervation of the central lateral central nucleus resembles that of the neighboring striatum in many respects. The synaptic density is high. As in the medial subnucleus, distal neuronal elements are the preferential target structures, indicating a modulatory function possibly regulating the selectivity of the target neurons for stimuli transmitted by other afferent fibers. Besides, individual neurons possess a dense perisomatic, presumably non-selective dopaminergic innervation. The innervation does not appear to be targeted at one specific neurochemical type of neuron in the central lateral central nucleus, but rather contacts somatostatin- and neurotensin-immunoreactive neurons (which are possibly also GABAergic), in addition to GABA/enkephalin-synthesizing and other (e.g., CHAT-immunoreactive) neurons. Individual neurons of the central lateral central nucleus express the dopamine-2-receptor subtype mRNA. The dopaminergic fiber baskets of the lateral capsular central nucleus are found surrounding enkephalin mRNA-reactive neurons. Codistribution studies suggest that they express the dopamine-2-receptor subtype mRNA. 4.1.2 Basal Complex: The basal complex receives dopaminergic and noradrenergic innervation, the latter mainly originating in the locus coeruleus. Some of the dopaminergic afferents contain neurotensin, and in contrast to the central nucleus, all neurotensin-immunoreactive afferent fibers are dopaminergic. In the noradrenergic afferent fibers NPY is not detectable. These results and the innervation pattern displaying mostly peripheral neuronal target structures resemble dopaminergic and noradrenergic innervation patterns documented in cortical areas. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Fibers / ultrastructure*
  • Amygdala / chemistry
  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Animals
  • Catecholamines / analysis
  • Catecholamines / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure*
  • Neurons, Afferent / chemistry
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Catecholamines