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The human medial amygdala: structure, diversity, and complexity of dendritic spines.

Journal of anatomy (2015-07-29)
Aline Dall'Oglio, Ana Carolina L Dutra, Jorge E Moreira, Alberto A Rasia-Filho
ABSTRACT

The medial nucleus of the amygdala (Me) is a component of the neural circuit for the interpretation of multimodal sensory stimuli and the elaboration of emotions and social behaviors in primates. We studied the presence, distribution, diverse shape, and connectivity of dendritic spines in the human Me of adult postmortem men. Data were obtained from the five types of multipolar neurons found in the Me using an adapted Golgi method and light microscopy, the carbocyanine DiI fluorescent dye and confocal microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. Three-dimensional reconstruction of spines showed a continuum of shapes and sizes, with the spines either lying isolated or forming clusters. These dendritic spines were classified as stubby/wide, thin, mushroom-like, ramified or with an atypical morphology including intermediate shapes, double spines, and thorny excrescences. Pleomorphic spines were found from proximal to distal dendritic branches suggesting potential differences for synaptic processing, strength, and plasticity in the Me neurons. Furthermore, the human Me has large and thin spines with a gemmule appearance, spinules, and filopodium. The ultrastructural data showed dendritic spines forming monosynaptic or multisynaptic contacts at the spine head and neck, and with asymmetric or symmetric characteristics. Additional findings included en passant, reciprocal, and serial synapses in the Me. Complex long-necked thin spines were observed in this subcortical area. These new data reveal the diversity of the dendritic spines in the human Me likely involved with the integration and processing of local synaptic inputs and with functional implications in physiological and various neuropathological conditions.

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