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Keywords:

  • calcium binding proteins;
  • dextran amines;
  • primary afferents;
  • motoneurons reptiles

Abstract

Neurons and fibers containing the calcium-binding protein calbindin-D28k (CB) were studied by immunohistochemical techniques in the spinal cord of adult and juvenile turtles, Pseudemys scripta elegans. Abundant cell bodies and fibers immunoreactive for CB were widely and distinctly distributed throughout the spinal cord. Most neurons and fibers were labeled in the superficial dorsal horn, but numerous cells were also located in the intermediate gray and ventral horn. In the dorsal horn, most CB-containing cells were located in close relation to the synaptic fields formed by primary afferents, which were not labeled for CB. Double immunohistofluorescence demonstrated distinct cell populations in the dorsal horn labeled only for CB or nitric oxide synthase, whereas in the dorsal part of the ventral horn colocalization of nitric oxide synthase was found in about 6% of the CB-immunoreactive cells in this region. Choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry revealed that only about 2% of the neurons in the dorsal part of the ventral horn colocalized CB, whereas motoneurons were not CB-immunoreactive. The involvement of CB-containing neurons in ascending spinal projections to the thalamus, tegmentum, and reticular formation was demonstrated combining the retrograde transport of dextran amines and immunohistochemistry. Similar experiments demonstrated supraspinal projections from CB-containing cells mainly located in the reticular formation but also in the thalamus and the vestibular nucleus. The revealed organization of the neurons and fibers containing CB in the spinal cord of the turtle shares distribution and developmental features, colocalization with other neuronal markers, and connectivity with other tetrapods and, in particular with mammals. Microsc. Res. Tech., 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.