Ultrastructural features of non-commissural GABAergic neurons in the medial vestibular nucleus of the monkey

G. R. Holstein, G. P. Martinelli, B. Cohen

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22 Scopus citations


The ultrastructural characteristics of non-degenerating GABAergic neurons in rostrolateral medial vestibular nucleus were identified in monkeys following midline transection of vestibular commissural fibers. In the previous papers, we reported that most degenerated cells and terminals in this tissue were located in rostrolateral medial vestibular nucleus, and that many of these neurons were GABA-immunoreactive. In the present study, we examined the ultrastructural features of the remaining neuronal elements in this medial vestibular nucleus region, in order to identify and characterize the GABAergic cells that are not directly involved in the vestibular commissural pathway related to the velocity storage mechanism. Such cells are primarily small, with centrally-placed nuclei. Axosomatic synapses are concentrated on polar regions of the somata. The proximal dendrites of GABAergic cells are surrounded by boutons, although distal dendrites receive only occasional synaptic contacts. Two types of non-degenerated GABAergic boutons are distinguished. Type A terminals are large, with very densely- packed spherical synaptic vesicles and clusters of large, irregularly-shaped mitochondria with wide matrix spaces. Such boutons form symmetric synapses, primarily with small GABAergic and non-GABAergic dendrites. Type B terminals are smaller and contain a moderate density of round/pleomorphic vesicles, numerous small round or tubular mitochondria, cisterns and vacuoles. These boutons serve both pre- and postsynaptic roles in symmetric contacts with non-GABAergic axon terminals. On the basis of ultrastructural observations of immunostained tissue, we conclude that at least two types of GABAergic neurons are present in the rostrolateral portion of the monkey medial vestibular nucleus: neurons related to the velocity storage pathway, and a class of vestibular interneurons. A multiplicity of GABAergic bouton types are also observed, and categorized on the basis of subcellular morphology. We hypothesize that 'Type A' boutons correspond to Purkinje cell afferents in rostrolateral medial vestibular nucleus, 'Type B' terminals represent the axons of GABAergic medial vestibular nucleus interneurons, and 'Type C' boutons take origin from vestibular commissural neurons of the velocity storage pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • GABA
  • Interneurons
  • Vestibular commissure
  • Vestibular nuclei
  • Vestibular system
  • Vestibulo- ocular reflex


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