Abstract

In adult primate visual cortex, the calcium-binding proteins calbindin (CB) and parvalbumin (PV) are localized in different subsets of GABAergic neurons with a characteristic laminar distribution. However, the emergence and development of CB and PV in relation to the periods of functional maturation of the human visual cortex are not known. Therefore, we examined (i) postnatal changes in the distribution of immunoreactivity (ir) for CB and PV in the visual cortex; (ii) the pattern of changes in immunoreactivity in relation to the synaptic maturation; and (iii) differences in the maturation of CB and PV immunoreactivity between areas 17 and 18. We found a consistently high expression of CB in neonatal visual cortex, particularly in layer IV and infragranular layers. However, despite an early appearance of PV, its peak in development occurred only after 2 months of age, characterized by a transient overexpression in the thalamo-recipient layer IV and a continuous inside-out maturation in supragranular layers. The neonatal pattern of high CB-ir in layers IV-VI was transformed during infancy and childhood into an adult pattern of high CB-ir in layer II, but low CB-ir in layer IV and infragranular layers. There was no difference in pattern and tempo of maturation of calcium-binding proteins between area 17 and 18, indicating simultaneous development of cortical inhibitory circuits among cytoarchitectonically and functionally distinct cortical areas. In addition, the reorganization of CB/PV expression temporally and spatially coincides with the course of cortical synaptogenesis, and delineates the major stages of maturation of the human visual cortex.