Non-uniformity of Neocortex: Areal Heterogeneity of NADPH-diaphorase Reactive Neurons in Adult Macaque Monkeys
We have examined the distribution of cortical neurons in adult monkey cortex which stain for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPH-d), an enzyme which is involved in the synthesis of nitric oxide. In order to compare distributions across areas we employed a cortical unit defined as the radial column, which refers to the volume of cortex below 1 mm 2 of cortical surface. Numbers of labeled neurons per radial column generate areal density measurements either for the full
... ickness of the cortex or for individual layers. Measurements were made in six cortical regions (areas V1, V2, STS, auditory cortex, area 4 and area 6). NADPH-d stains nonpyramidal neurons which can be divided into two major groups. Type 1 neurons have large soma diameters, stain densely for NADPH-d and show few morphological variations both within and across areas. Type 2 neurons have small somata and short processes, and can be subdivided on the basis of soma size into dense and light staining categories. Both subcategories of type 2 neurons show significant areal variations in size. In each cortical area the majority of type 1 neurons are located in the white matter. Areal densities of type 1 neurons are minimal in areas V1 and V2, and twice as dense in the frontal cortex. Pairwise comparisons of areal densities among the six areas examined show that in a radial column throughout the full thickness of cortex, areas differ significantly from each other in 12/15 comparisons. Consideration of individual layers shows significant differences in 13/15 comparisons. Type 2 neurons are exclusively located in the cortical gray matter, and in all areas are considerably more numerous than type 1 neurons. Area V1 is unique it that it has up to three times the areal density found in any other cortical area. With reference to published laminar cell density counts our results show that the percentage of labeled NADPH-d neurons in individual layers of area V1 are significantly higher than in the other areas. The laminar distributions of type 1 and type 2 neurons show that each area has a unique profile of NADPH-d expression. The modular or columnar organization of the cortex, also referred to as the radial column hypothesis, is important for understanding both the development and function of the cortex. The present results show that radial columns in individual cortical areas possess distinctive patterns of NADPH-d expression. This important degree of areal heterogeneity of NADPH-d neurons has far reaching implications for both the development and functions of neocortical areas.