The Ventral Lateral Geniculate Nucleus, Pars Lateralis of the Rat. Synaptic Organization and Conditions for Axonal Sprouting

Cell Tissue Res. 1976 Aug 10;170(4):435-54. doi: 10.1007/BF00361703.


The synaptic organization of the pars lateralis portion of the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus is similar to that of other thalamic nuclei. There are four types of synaptic knobs (RL, RS, F1, F2). RL knobs are large and irregularly shaped, contain round synaptic vesicles and make multiple asymmetrical junctions. They are found primarily in "synaptic islands" making contact with gemmules, spines, small dendrites, and other synaptic profiles containing pleiomorphic synaptic vesicles (F2). Smaller RS knobs contain round vesicles and make asymmetrical junctions with the same type of elements as RL knobs, with the exception of the F2 profiles, but are seldom found in synaptic islands. F1 knobs contain flattened synaptic vesicles and form symmetrical junctions with F2 knobs, gemmules, spines, and small-medium dendrites in synaptic islands, throughout the neuropil, and on the proximal dendrites and soma of the largest type of neuron. F2 knobs are irregularly shaped, contain pleiomorphic synaptic vesicles and make symmetrical junctions primarily with gemmules and spines in synaptic islands. They are postsynaptic to RL and F1 knobs. Occipital decortication indicates that cortical terminals are of the RS type. Bilateral enucleation indicates that retinal terminals are of both the FL and RS type. The large amount of geographic overlap of retinal and cortical terminals on gemmules, spines, and small dendrites found in the neuropil outside of synaptic islands logically would maximize axonal sprouting between these two sources.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cerebral Decortication
  • Geniculate Bodies / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Rats
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Visual Pathways