Human prefrontal layer II interneurons in areas 46, 10 and 24
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Prefrontal cortex (PFC) represents the highest level of integration and control of psychic and behavioral states. Several dysfunctions such as autism, hyperactivity disorders, depression, and schizophrenia have been related with alterations in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Among the cortical layers of the PFC, layer II shows a particular vertical pattern of organization, the highest cell density and the biggest non-pyramidal/pyramidal neuronal ratio. We currently characterized the layer II cytoarchitecture in human areas 10, 24, and 46.
We focused particularly on the inhibitory neurons taking into account that these cells are involved in sustained firing (SF) after stimuli disappearance.
Postmortem samples from five subjects who died by causes different to central nervous system diseases were studied. Immunohistochemistry for the neuronal markers, NeuN, parvalbumin, calbindin, and calretinin were used. NeuN targeted the total neuronal population while the rest of the markers specifically the interneurons.
Cell density and soma size were statically different between areas 10, 46, 24 when using NeuN. Layer II of area 46 showed the highest cell density. Regarding interneurons, PV+-cells of area 46 showed the highest density and size, in accordance to the proposal of a dual origin of the cerebral cortex. Interhemispheric asymmetries were not identified between homologue areas.
First, our findings suggest that layer II of area 46 exhibits the most powerful inhibitory system compared to the other prefrontal areas analyzed. This feature is not only characteristic of the PFC but also supports a particular role of layer II of area 46 in SF. Additionally, known functional asymmetries between hemispheres might not be supported by morphological asymmetries.
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