Human reticular formation: Cholinergic neurons of the pedunculopontine and laterodorsal tegmental nuclei and some cytochemical comparisons to forebrain cholinergic neurons

M. ‐Marsel Mesulam*, Changiz Geula, Mark A. Bothwell, Louis B. Hersh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

238 Scopus citations

Abstract

Choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry showed that the human rostra1 brainstem contained cholinergic neurons in the oculomotor, trochlear, and parabigeminal nuclei as well as within the reticular formation. The cholinergic neurons of the reticular formation were the most numerous and formed two intersecting constellations. One of these, designated Ch5, reached its peak density within the compact pedunculopontine nucleus but also extended into the regions through which the superior cerebellar peduncle and central tegmental tract course. The second constellation, designated Ch6, was centered around the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus and spread into the central gray and medial longitudinal fasciculus. There was considerable transmitterrelated heterogeneity within the regions containing Ch5 and Ch6. In particular, Ch6 neurons were intermingled with catecholaminergic neurons belonging to the locus coeruleus complex. The lack of confinement within specifiable cytoarchitectonic boundaries and the transmitter heterogeneity justified the transmitter‐specific Ch5 and Ch6 nomenclature for these two groups of cholinergic neurons. The cholinergic neurons in the nucleus basalis (Ch4) and those of the Ch5‐Ch6 complex were both characterized by perikaryal heteromorphism and isodendritic arborizations. In addition to choline acetyltransferase, the cell bodies in both complexes also had high levels of acetylcholinesterase activity and nonphosphorylated neurofilament protein. However, there were also marked differences in cytochemical signature. For example, the Ch5‐Ch6 neurons had high levels of NADPHd activity, whereas Ch4 neurons did not. On the other hand, the Ch4 neurons had high levels of NGF receptor protein, whereas those of Ch5‐Ch6 did not. On the basis of animal experiments, it can he assumed that the Ch5 and Ch6 neurons provide the major cholinergic innervation of the human thalamus and that they participate in the neural circuitry of the reticular activating, limbic, and perhaps also extrapyramidal systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-633
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Volume283
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 22 1989

Keywords

  • basal forebrain
  • colinergic
  • human brain
  • laterodorsal tegmental nucleus
  • parabigeminal nucleus
  • pedunculopontine nucleus
  • reticular formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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