Serotonin innervation of human basal ganglia

Authors

  • Marie-Josée Wallman,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval and Centre de Recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, 2601 Canardière, Room F-6500, Quebec City, QC, G1J 2G3, Canada
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  • Dave Gagnon,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval and Centre de Recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, 2601 Canardière, Room F-6500, Quebec City, QC, G1J 2G3, Canada
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  • Martin Parent

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval and Centre de Recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, 2601 Canardière, Room F-6500, Quebec City, QC, G1J 2G3, Canada
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Dr M. Parent, as above.
E-mail: martin.parent@crulrg.ulaval.ca

Abstract

This study aimed to provide a first detailed description of the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) innervation of the human basal ganglia under nonpathological conditions. We applied an immunohistochemical approach to postmortem human brain material with antibodies directed against the 5-HT transporter and the 5-HT-synthesizing enzyme (tryptophane hydroxylase) to visualize 5-HT axons and cell bodies, respectively. Adjacent sections were immunostained for tyrosine hydroxylase to compare the distribution of 5-HT axons with that of dopamine axons. Human basal ganglia are innervated by 5-HT axons that emerge chiefly from the dorsal and, less abundantly, from the median raphe nuclei. These axons form thick ascending fascicles that fragment themselves as they penetrate the decussation of the superior cerebellar peduncle. They regroup within the ventral tegmental area and ascend along the medial forebrain bundle, immediately beneath the dopamine ascending fibers. At regular intervals along their course, 5-HT axons detach themselves from the medial forebrain bundle and sweep laterally to arborize within all basal ganglia components, where they display highly variable densities and patterns of innervation. The substantia nigra is the most densely innervated component of the basal ganglia, whereas the caudate nucleus is more heterogeneously innervated than the putamen and pallidum. The subthalamic nucleus harbors 5-HT-immunoreactive fibers that display a mediolateral-decreasing gradient. The fact that all components of human basal ganglia receive a dense 5-HT input indicates that, in concert with dopamine, 5-HT plays a crucial role in the functional organization of these motor-related structures, which are often targeted in neurodegenerative diseases.

Ancillary