Abstract

The ability of dopamine to regulate the cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) involves complex modulatory actions on GABA-containing local circuit neurons in addition to pyramidal cells. However, the subclasses of cortical neurons that receive direct dopamine input are not known. We sought to determine whether dopamine terminals innervate the subclasses of local circuit neurons that contain the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PV), namely the wide arbor and chandelier neurons that target pyramidal cell soma and axon initial segments respectively. Sections through area 9 of five monkeys were labeled with immunoperoxidase for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), to identify dopamine terminals, and with immunogold-silver for PV. Electron microscopic examination of the middle cortical layers (IIIb-IV) revealed that TH-positive terminals were sometimes directly apposed to PV-labeled dendrites, and approximately one-third of these contacts exhibited morphological features that are typically associated with symmetric synapses. In contrast, TH-immunolabeled terminals in the superficial layers (I-IIIa) were less frequently apposed to PV-positive dendrites, and none of these contacts exhibited synapse-like morphology. These findings, in concert with previous studies of GABA- or calretinin-containing local circuit neurons, suggest that dopamine's modulatory action in the PFC involves selective effects on only certain interneuron populations, including those that mediate potent inhibitory actions on pyramidal cells.