The inferior colliculus of the rat: Quantitative immunocytochemical study of GABA and glycine

M. Merchán, L. A. Aguilar, E. A. Lopez-Poveda, M. S. Malmierca

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Both GABA and glycine (Gly) containing neurons send inhibitory projections to the inferior colliculus (IC), whereas inhibitory neurons within the IC are primarily GABAergic. To date, however, a quantitative description of the topographic distribution of GABAergic neurons in the rat's IC and their GABAergic or glycinergic inputs is lacking. Accordingly, here we present detailed maps of GABAergic and glycinergic neurons and terminals in the rat's IC. Semithin serial sections of the IC were obtained and stained for GABA and Gly. Images of the tissue were digitized and used for a quantitative densitometric analysis of GABA immunostaining. The optical density, perimeter, and number of GABA- and Gly immunoreactive boutons apposed to the somata were measured. Data analysis included comparisons across IC subdivisions and across frequency regions within the central nucleus of the IC. The results show that: 1) 25% of the IC neurons are GABAergic; 2) there are more GABAergic neurons in the central nucleus of the IC than previously estimated; 3) GABAergic neurons are larger than non-GABAergic; 4) GABAergic neurons receive less GABA and glycine puncta than non-GABAergic; 5) differences across frequency regions are minor, except that the non-GABAergic neurons from high frequency regions are larger than their counterparts in low frequency regions; 6) differences within the laminae are greater along the dorsomedial-ventrolateral axis than along the rostrocaudal axis; 7) GABA and non-GABAergic neurons receive different numbers of puncta in different IC subdivisions; and 8) GABAergic puncta are both apposed to the somata and in the neuropil, glycinergic puncta are mostly confined to the neuropil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-925
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino acids
  • Auditory pathway
  • Axosomatic endings
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Inhibitory neurotransmitters
  • Optical densitometry


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