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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Morphological evidence for the existence of multiple neuronal classes in the cat lateral superior olivary nucleus.

This study characterizes morphologically the neurons residing within the matrix of the cat lateral superior olive (LSO), excluding the hili and myelinated axon envelope. Several light microscopic techniques including Golgi impregnations, Nissl stains, and acetylcholinesterase histochemistry were used, as well as electron microscopy. Five distinct classes of neurons have been identified: principal neurons, multiplanar neurons, marginal neurons, small neurons, and class 5 neurons. These neuronal classes differ in regard to their size and shape, dendritic organization, perikaryal synaptic density, and their relative numbers. Principal neurons compose approximately three-quarters of the LSO neurons. They are multipolar and uniplanar in their dendritic arborization, radiating from the hili in rostrocaudal planes perpendicular to the curvatures of the LSO. In transverse sections the principal cell perikarya are fusiform and bipolar, with mean dimensions of 23 X 11 microns. More than 60% of the surface of these cells is contacted by synaptic terminals. Multiplanar neurons (averaging 23 X 19 microns) compose only 11% of the LSO neuronal population. Their dendritic arborization is not restricted to any particular plane, and their somal surface receives synaptic contacts similar, in number and type, to principal cells. Marginal neurons, although they are similar to principal neurons in shape and dendritic arborization, differ in that they are generally smaller (averaging 20 X 10.5 microns). They also possess fewer axosomatic synaptic contacts (approximately 33%), are oriented perpendicularly to principal neurons, are limited in distribution to the contours of the LSO immediately beneath the myelinated axon envelope, and constitute only 4% of the neuronal population. Small neurons (mean dimensions = 9 X 8 micron) compose 8% of the LSO neurons. They possess a multiplanar array of primary dendrites and have nuclei with multiple deep infoldings. Small neurons have the fewest axosomatic synaptic contacts of all classes of LSO neurons (approximately 10%). Additionally, there are neurons that are similar to principal neurons, but receive fewer axosomatic contacts (approximately 33%). These cells have been tentatively identified as class 5 neurons until more information on this type allows for the assignment of a more descriptive name. A number of acetylcholinesterase-positive neurons are also found within the LSO, whose relationship to the other classes of neurons is presently unresolved. Possible functions of the multiple neuronal types are discussed.[1]


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