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Calretinin and calbindin architecture of the midline thalamus associated with prefrontal-hippocampal circuitry.

  • Viena, Tatiana D1
  • Rasch, Gabriela E1
  • Silva, Daniela1
  • Allen, Timothy A1, 2
  • 1 Cognitive Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA.
  • 2 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Robert Stempel College of Public Health, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA.
Published Article
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Oct 21, 2020
DOI: 10.1002/hipo.23271
PMID: 33085824


The midline thalamus bidirectionally connects the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and hippocampus (HC) creating a unique cortico-thalamo-cortical circuit fundamental to memory and executive function. While the anatomical connectivity of midline thalamus has been thoroughly investigated, little is known about its cellular organization within each nucleus. Here we used immunohistological techniques to examine cellular distributions in the midline thalamus based on the calcium binding proteins parvalbumin (PV), calretinin (CR), and calbindin (CB). We also examined these calcium binding proteins in a population of reuniens cells known to project to both mPFC and HC using a dual fluorescence retrograde adenoassociated virus-based tracing approach. These dual reuniens mPFC-HC projecting cells, in particular, are thought to be important for synchronizing mPFC and HC activity. First, we confirmed the absence of PV+ neurons in the midline thalamus. Second, we found a common pattern of CR+ and CB+ cells throughout midline thalamus with CR+ cells running along the nearby third ventricle (3V) and penetrating the midline. CB+ cells were consistently more lateral and toward the middle of the dorsal-ventral extent of the midline thalamus. Notably, single-labeled CR+ and CB+ zones were partially overlapping and included dual-labeled CR+ /CB+ cells. Within RE, we also observed a CR and CB subzone specific diversity. Interestingly, dual mPFC-HC projecting neurons in RE expressed none of the calcium binding proteins examined, but were contained in nests of CR+ and CB+ cells. Overall, the midline thalamus was well organized into CR+ and CB+ rich zones distributed throughout the region, with dual mPFC-HC projecting cells in reuniens representing a unique cell population. These results provide a cytoarchitectural organization in the midline thalamus based on calcium binding protein expression, and set the stage for future cell-type specific interrogations of the functional role of these different cell populations in mPFC-HC interactions. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

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