Distribution, morphology and habenular projections of adenosine deaminase-containing neurons in the septal area of rat

W. A. Staines, T. Yamamoto, K. M. Dewar, P. E. Daddona, J. D. Geiger, J. I. Nagy

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23 Scopus citations


Adenosine deaminase (ADA) was localized within several types of neurons within the septum and in septal efferent projections to the habenula by immunohistochemical, biochemical, retrograde tracing and lesion methods. Numerous ADA-immunoreactive (ADA-IR) neurons were observed in the septofimbrial nucleus, the triangular septal nucleus and the bed nucleus of the anterior commissure, while considerably fewer numbers were seen in the lateral septal area. Based on their size, shape and dendritic features, 4 morphologically distinct types of ADA-IR neurons were recognized in these septal structures. In addition, fine, non-varicose, ADA-IR fibers appeared to emanate from the postcommissural cell groups and these coalesced within the stria medullaris, continued caudally within this fiber bundle, and gave rise to a dense field of very fine immunoreactive elements within a restricted zone of the dorsal half of the medial habenula. Comparisons of the habenular localization of ADA-IR and enkephalin-IR elements showed that fibers labelled for either ADA or enkephalin occupied distinct, non-overlapping regions within the dorsal half of the medial habenula. After injections of Fluoro-gold (FG) into the medial habenula, the majority of ADA-IR neurons in the septofimbrial nucleus, triangular septal nucleus, and the bed nucleus of the anterior commissure were retrogradely labelled with this fluorescent tracer, whereas no ADA-positive FG-labelled neurons were observed in the lateral septal region. Unilateral transections of the stria medullaris caused substantial depletions of ADA-immunoreactivity and reduced enzymatically determined ADA activity by up to 80% in the medial habenula on the lesioned compared with the contralateral control side. These results demonstrate that ADA-IR neurons in the septum are heterogeneously distributed and that populations of positive neurons within the postcommissural septal nuclei give rise to dense, focal projections to the medial habenula. These projections appear to be restricted to a portion of the medial habenula known to contain substance P-IR neurons and are subregionally segregated from enkephalin-positive septohabenular projections ending within this same portion. In addition to pointing out a unique capacity for adenosine catabolism within some septal neurons, possibly related to purinergic neuromodulation, the results indicate the utility of ADA-immunohistochemistry for the delineation of anatomical relationships between the septum and the medial habenula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 5 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenosine deaminase
  • Enkephalin
  • Habenula
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Purinergic neurotransmission
  • Septal nucleus
  • Septohabenular projection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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