GABAergic pathways in the rat subcortical visual system: a comparative study in vivo and in vitro


Dr Matthias Schmidt, as above.


Inhibitory pathways project from the pretectal nuclear complex to the ipsilateral superior colliculus (SC) and dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN). Both pathways arise from GABAergic neurones that are located in the dorsal pretectal nuclear complex. In the present experiments, we compared the anatomy and physiology of these two pathways with the objective of determining whether they have similar functions. First, we injected retrograde axonal tracers that fluoresce at different wavelengths in the dLGN and SC of single animals to determine if individual GABAergic neurones in the pretectum project to both structures. The results showed that the dLGN and SC receive input from different cell groups. Next, morphological reconstructions of cells labelled after in-vitro whole-cell patch-clamp recordings demonstrated that the pretectal-recipient cells in the dLGN are GABAergic interneurones, whereas those in the SC are projection cells. Finally, with in-vitro whole-cell patch-clamp recordings we showed that inhibitory currents generated by both pathways are mediated by GABAA receptors. Taken together, these results suggest that these inhibitory projections may function to facilitate the relay of information from the dLGN to the visual cortex by suppressing the activity of dLGN interneurones, and to reduce the level of activity leaving the SC by inhibiting the projection neurones. These hypotheses will be discussed in the context of the known functions of the pretectal complex.