Differential expression of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors across excitatory and inhibitory cells in visual cortical areas V1 and V2 of the macaque monkey

Anita A. Disney, Kunal V. Domakonba, Chiye Aoki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cholinergic neuromodulation, a candidate mechanism for aspects of attention, is complex and is not well understood. Because structure constrains function, quantitative anatomy is an invaluable tool for reducing such a challenging problem. Our goal was to determine the extent to which m1 and m2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) are expressed by inhibitory vs. excitatory neurons in the early visual cortex. To this end, V1 and V2 of macaque monkeys were immunofluorescently labelled for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and either m1 or m2 mAChRs. Among the GABA-immunoreactive (ir) neurons, 61% in V1 and 63% in V2 were m1 AChR-ir, whereas 28% in V1 and 43% in V2 were m2 AChR-ir. In V1, both mAChRs were expressed by fewer than 10% of excitatory neurons. However, in V2, the population of mAChR-ir excitatory neurons was at least double that observed in V1. We also examined m1 and m2 AChR immunoreactivity in layers 2 and 3 of area V1 under the electron microscope and found evidence that GABAergic neurons localize mAChRs to the soma, whereas glutamatergic neurons expressed mAChRs more strongly in dendrites. Axon and terminal labelling was generally weak. These data represent the first quantitative anatomical study of m1 and m2 AChR expression in the cortex of any species. In addition, the increased expression in excitatory neurons across the V1/V2 border may provide a neural basis for the observation that attentional effects gain strength up through the visual pathway from area V1 through V2 to V4 and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-63
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006



  • Cholinergic
  • Dual labelling
  • Electron microscopy
  • GABAergic
  • Immunofluorescence
  • Neuromodulation
  • Striate cortex
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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