Morphology, distribution, and synaptic relations of somatostatin- and neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive neurons in rat and monkey neocortex

S. H.C. Hendry, E. G. Jones, P. C. Emson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

330 Scopus citations


Neurons in the monkey and rat cerebral cortex immunoreactive for somatostatin tetradecapeptide (SRIF) and for neuropeptide Y (NPY) were examined in the light and electron microscope. Neurons immunoreactive for either peptide are found in all areas of monkey cortex examined as well as throughout the rat cerebral cortex and in the subcortical white matter of both species. In monkey and rat cortex, SRIF-positive neurons are morphologically very similar to NPY-positive neurons. Of the total population of SRIF-positive and NPY-positive neurons in sensory-motor and parietal cortex of monkeys, a minimum of 24% was immunoreactive for both peptides. Most cell bodies are small (8 to 10 μm in diameter) and are present through the depth of the cortex but are densest in layers II-III, in layer VI, and in the subjacent white matter. From the cell bodies several processes commonly emerge, branch two or three times, become beaded, and extend for long distances through the cortex. The fields formed by these processes vary from cell to cell; therefore, the usual morphological terms bipolar, multipolar, and so on do not adequately characterize the full population of neurons. Virtually every cell, however, has at least one long vertically oriented process, and most processes of white matter cells ascend into the cortex. No processes could be positively identified with the light microscope as axons. The processes of the peptide-positive neurons form dense plexuses in the cortex. In each area of monkey cortex, SRIF-positive and NPY-positive processes form a superficial plexus in layers I and II and a deep plexus in layer VI. These plexuses vary in density from area to area. All appear to arise from cortical or white matter cells rather than from extrinsic afferents. In some areas such as SI and areas 5 and 7, the superficial plexus extends deeply into layers III and IV; and in area 17, two very prominent middle plexuses occur in layers IIIB through IVB and in the upper one-third of layer V; these are separated by layer IVC, a major zone of thalamic terminations, which contain very few SRIF- or NYP-positive processes. The density of the plexuses is greater for NPY-positive processes than for SRIF-positive processes in all areas. In the rat, the plexuses do not display a strict laminar organization but generally are densest in the supragranular layers (I to III) and decline steadily in the deeper layers. Most synaptic terminals in area 4 and in SI of monkeys that are immunoreactive for either SRIF or NPY are small (0.5 to 1.0 μm), and the cytoplasmic surfaces of all their contained organelles are labeled as well as the cores of the one or two large dense-core vesicles that can be present. Some of these terminals could not be seen to form synapses even in serial thin sections. Where their synapses could be identified they formed symmetric membrane thickenings and occurred principally onto dendritic spines or onto the shafts of small or medium-sized dendrites. Some SRIF-positive and NPY-positive terminals are larger (2 to 3 μm) and contain numerous labeled, large dense-core vesicles. These terminals form asymmetric synapses on large dendritic shafts arising from large nonpyramidal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2497-2517
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Morphology, distribution, and synaptic relations of somatostatin- and neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive neurons in rat and monkey neocortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this