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Keywords:

  • accumbens;
  • core;
  • Fluoro-Gold;
  • shell;
  • striatum;
  • substantia nigra;
  • VTA

Abstract

The calcium-binding protein calbindin-D28K is an anatomical marker that has been associated with resistance to neurodegeneration and with the electrophysiological characteristics of neurons. In this study, we compared the presence of calbindin in dopamine neurons projecting to three distinct functional regions of the striatal complex: the striatum, and the core and the shell of the nucleus accumbens. After iontophoretic injections of Fluoro-Gold in the dopaminergic terminal fields, the presence of tyrosine hydroxylase and calbindin were immunohistochemically assessed in the mesencephalon. It was found that the proportion of cells expressing calbindin was highest in the dopamine cells projecting to the core (72%), intermediate in the cells projecting to the shell (51%) and lowest in the cells projecting to the dorsolateral striatum (2.6%). These results do not support the idea that calbindin is a sufficient condition to confer resistance to neurodegeneration because shell-projecting neurons seem the most resistant to it. The present data also raise the question of the role of calbindin in the differences in firing characteristics among dopamine neurons projecting to the striatal complex.