Cholinergic innervation in the human hippocampal formation including the entorhinal cortex

Sonsoles De Lacalle, Chun Lim, Teresa Sobreviela, Elliott J. Mufson, Louis B. Hersh, Clifford B. Saper

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61 Scopus citations


The cholinergic innervation of the hippocampal formation is thought to play an important role in memory processes, but its organization in humans has not been described in detail. We studied the cholinergic innervation of the human hippocampal formation by means of immunohistochemistry with polyclonal antisera directed against acetyleholinesterase (AChE), choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), and the low‐affinity (p75) nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR). The density of ChAT‐like immunoreactive (ChAT‐li) fibers differed substantially among the various regions, in general paralleling the pattern of AChE‐li staining. One notable exception was the presence of AChE‐li cell bodies. In contrast, ChAT immunoreactivity was associated only with fibers and terminals. NGFR‐li staining corresponded closely to the ChAT‐li fiber pattern. ChAT‐li fibers in the CA fields diffusely filled the stratum pyramidale and extended into the stratum oriens and radiatum as well. The highest density was consistently observed in CA4 and CA3 subfields. Staining decreased from CA4 to CA1 and was substantially less dense in the subicular complex. In the entorhinal cortex, the ChAT‐ and NGFR‐li fiber innervation displayed a laminar pattern, most intense over the nests of cells in layer II. There was a trend towards an age‐related reduction in the density of ChAT‐ and AChE‐li fibers and terminals. Nonetheless, we also found a surprisingly conserved NGFR‐li innervation and the presence of occasional NGFR‐li pyramidal cells, providing evidence of a plastic response in the brains of the elderly patients.© 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-344
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 15 1994


  • acetylcholinesterase
  • chemoarchitectonics
  • choline acetyltransferase
  • cholinergic system
  • limbic system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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