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Keywords:

  • convergence;
  • GABA;
  • rat;
  • reconstruction;
  • tracing

Abstract

The morphological properties and connectivity of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic hippocampal cells projecting to the medial septum (HS cells) were examined in the rat. Two types of HS cells are located in different layers of the hippocampus: sparsely-spiny cells are in CA1–3 str. oriens and CA3 str. radiatum, where recurrent axons of pyramidal cells arborize. Densely-spiny HS cells with spiny somata are located in the termination zone of granule cell axons. In the hilus, intermediate morphologies can also be found. HS cells receive GABAergic medial septal afferents in all layers where they occur, thus the connectivity of the septum and the hippocampus is reciprocal at cell level. HS cells receive extremely dense innervation, sparsely-spiny cells are innervated by ∼19 000 excitatory inputs, while densely-spiny cells get an even larger number (∼37 000). While 14% of the inputs are inhibitory for the sparsely-spiny cells, it is only 2.3% in the case of densely-spiny cells. Because a high proportion (up to 54.5% on somata and 27.5% on dendrites) of their GABAergic inputs derived from labelled septal terminals, their predominant inhibitory input probably arises from the medial septum. CA1 area HS cells possessed myelinated projecting axons, as well as local collaterals, which targeted mostly pyramidal cell dendrites and spines in str. oriens and radiatum. The synaptic organization suggests that by sampling the activity of large populations of principal cells HS cells can reliably broadcast hippocampal activity level to the medial septum.