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

Dual role of substance P/GABA axons in cortical neurotransmission: synaptic triads on pyramidal cell spines and basket-like innervation of layer II-III calbindin interneurons in primate prefrontal cortex.

In spite of accumulating evidence on the potent neuromodulatory, neuroprotective, trophic and memory-enhancing effects of the neuropeptide substance P (SP) in the cerebral cortex, the excitatory or inhibitory nature of the cortical SP innervation remains unclear and the postsynaptic targets of SP fibers are not defined. To obtain further insight into these issues, we have examined SP-containing axons and their postsynaptic targets in the prefrontal cortex of adult monkeys with single- and double label immunocytochemistry combined with light and correlated electron microscopy. SP fibers in the primate prefrontal cortex, unlike those in the rat cortex, preferentially innervate cortical layers I, II and upper layer III. Our results demonstrate for the first time that all SP-immunoreactive boutons in all cortical layers contain GABA. Of the entire sample of SP boutons, 53% synapse on dendritic shafts, 39% on dendritic spines and 8% on cell bodies. Another new finding is that synapse-forming SP boutons, in addition to their known innervation of pyramidal cells, form pericellular baskets around interneurons in layers II and upper III, a subpopulation of which contains calbindin D28k. Finally, the study also revealed that SP boutons frequently participate in 'synaptic triads' with spines which receive another (asymmetric, putatively excitatory amino acid-utilizing) synapse. Our findings indicate that SP/GABA axons in the primate prefrontal cortex modulate excitatory amino acid-mediated neurotransmission and control feed-forward disinhibitory GABAergic circuits in supragranular cortical layers.[1]


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