Neocortical cholinergic innervation: A description of extrinsic and intrinsic components in the rat

M. V. Johnston, M. McKinney, J. T. Coyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

376 Scopus citations


Electrothermic lesion of the peri-pallidal region of the rat caused a marked reduction in the activity of choline acetyltransferase in the ipsilateral fronto-parietal cortex without affecting the activity of glutamate decarboxylase. Only lesions that involved the ventral globus pallidus significantly reduced cortical choline acetyltransferase activity; and lesions limited to the thalamus, internal capsule, pyriform cortex or zona incerta were ineffective. Excito-toxin lesions of the ventral globus pallidus caused 45-55% reductions in all presynaptic markers for cholinergic neurons but did not significantly decrease presynaptic markers for noradrenergic, serotonergic or histaminergic neurons in the cortex. The maximal reductions in cortical choline acetyltransferase activity achieved with the pallidal lesion was 70%; and enzyme activity reached its nadir by four days after placement of the lesion. The pallidal lesion, which ablated the large isodendritic acetylcholinesterase positive neuronal perikarya, resulted in a profound loss in histochemically stained acetylcholinesterase-reactive fibers in the fronto-parietal cortex but not in the cingulate, pyriform and occipital cortex or hippocampal formation; analysis of the subregions of the cortex revealed parallel reductions in choline acetyltransferase activity. The kainate lesion of the parietal cortex to ablate intrinsic neurons did not reduce the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase, a marker for noradrenergic terminals, but depressed glutamate decarboxylase by 68%; in contrast choline acetyltransferase activity fell only 29%. The results indicate that approximately 70% of the cholinergic innervation in the frontoparietal cortex is derived from acetylcholinesterase positive neurons in the peripallidal nucleus basalis, whereas the remainder appears to be localized in cortical intrinsic neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1981


  • Acetylcholine
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Choline acetyltransferase
  • Cortex
  • Excitotoxins
  • Globus pallidus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Neocortical cholinergic innervation: A description of extrinsic and intrinsic components in the rat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this