Dopaminergic innervation of interneurons in the rat basolateral amygdala.

PMID 18948174


The basolateral nuclear complex of the amygdala (BLC) receives a dense dopaminergic innervation that plays a critical role in the formation of emotional memory. Dopamine has been shown to influence the activity of BLC GABAergic interneurons, which differentially control the activity of pyramidal cells. However, little is known about how dopaminergic inputs interface with different interneuronal subpopulations in this region. To address this question, dual-labeling immunohistochemical techniques were used at the light and electron microscopic levels to examine inputs from tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive (TH+) dopaminergic terminals to two different interneuronal populations in the rat basolateral nucleus labeled using antibodies to parvalbumin (PV) or calretinin (CR). The basolateral nucleus exhibited a dense innervation by TH+ axons. Partial serial section reconstruction of TH+ terminals found that at least 43-50% of these terminals formed synaptic junctions in the basolateral nucleus. All of the synapses examined were symmetrical. In both TH/PV and TH/CR preparations the main targets of TH+ terminals were spines and distal dendrites of unlabeled cells. In sections dual-labeled for TH/PV 59% of the contacts of TH+ terminals with PV+ neurons were synapses, whereas in sections dual-labeled for TH/CR only 13% of the contacts of TH+ terminals with CR+ cells were synapses. In separate preparations examined in complete serial sections for TH+ basket-like innervation of PV+ perikarya, most (76.2%) of TH+ terminal contacts with PV+ perikarya were synapses. These findings suggest that PV+ interneurons, but not CR+ interneurons, are prominent synaptic targets of dopaminergic terminals in the BLC.

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