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posted on 12.04.2018, 07:35 authored by Marian Evangelio, María García-Amado, Francisco Clascá

A key parameter to constrain predictive, bottom-up circuit models of a given brain domain is the number and position of the neuronal populations involved. These include not only the neurons whose bodies reside within the domain, but also the neurons in distant regions that innervate the domain. The mouse visual cortex receives its main subcortical input from the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) and the lateral posterior (LP) complex of the thalamus. The latter consists of three different nuclei: lateral posterior lateral (LPL), lateral posterior medial rostral (LPMR), and lateral posterior medial caudal (LPMC), each exhibiting specific patterns of connections with the various visual cortical areas. Here, we have determined the number of thalamocortical projection neurons and interneurons in the LP complex and dLGN of the adult C57BL/6 male mouse. We combined Nissl staining and histochemical and immunolabeling methods for consistently delineating nuclei borders, and applied unbiased stereological cell counting methods. Thalamic interneurons were identified using GABA immunolabeling. The C57BL/6 dLGN contains ∼21,200 neurons, while LP complex contains ∼31,000 total neurons. The dLGN and LP are the only nuclei of the mouse dorsal thalamus containing substantial numbers GABA-immunoreactive interneurons. These interneurons, however, are scarcer than previously estimated; they are 5.6% of dLGN neurons and just 1.9% of the LP neurons. It can be thus inferred that the dLGN contains ∼20,000 and the LP complex ∼30,400 thalamocortical projection neurons (∼12,000 in LPL, 15,200 in LPMR, and 4,200 in LPMC). The present dataset is relevant for constraining models of mouse visual thalamocortical circuits, as well as for quantitative comparisons between genetically modified mouse strains, or across species.