Neurons of the lateral and basolateral amygdaloid nuclei: A golgi study in the rat



Neurons in the lateral and basolateral nuclei of the rat amygdala were studied using Golgi-Kopsch and rapid Golgi techniques. According to differences in perikaryal, dendritic, and axonal morphology, three main neuronal classes are recognized. Class I neurons, the predominant cell type in both nuclei, are large, spiny neurons that vary in size in different subdivisions of the lateral and basolateral nuclei. These neurons often have a pyramidal shape, exhibiting one or two thick “apical” dendrites and several thinner “basal” dendrites. Axons of class I neurons, which appear to pass out of the nucleus of origin, usually give off several collaterals that arborize modestly in the vicinity of the cell. Class II neurons are smaller, ovoid cells that comprise approximately 5% of impregnated neurons. These neurons are characterized by spine-sparse dendrites and fairly dense local axonal arborizations. Class II neurons may be classified as multipolar, bitufted, or bipolar, depending on dendritic branching pattern. Another type of class II neuron, the amygdaloid chandelier cell, is recognized by virtue of its distinctive axon. The chandelier cell axon gives off numerous collaterals that form nestlike entanglements exhibiting clusters of axonal varicosities. Isolated chandelierlike axons of undetermined origin were observed forming multiple contacts with initial segments of class I axons. Several small, spherical class III neurons with short, varicose dendrites were observed. Axons branch profusely to form a dense tangle of collaterals in the vicinity of the cell. Both axons and dendrites establish numerous contacts with class I dendrites. This investigation, the first detailed Golgi study of the basolateral amygdala of the rat, reveals that the cytoarchitecture of this brain region in the rat is basically similar to that of the opossum and other mammals. Morphologic details described in this report should be useful in the interpretation of ultrastructural, immunocytochemical, and electro-physiological studies of the basolateral amygdala.