Parvalbumin as a neurochemical marker of the primate optic radiation

Gaoyuan Ma, Katrina H. Worthy, Cirong Liu, Marcello G.P. Rosa, Nafiseh Atapour

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Parvalbumin (PV) is a calcium-binding protein that labels neuronal cell bodies in the magno and parvocellular layers of the primate lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Here we demonstrate that PV immunohistochemistry can also be used to trace the optic radiation (OR) of the marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus) from its LGN origin to its destinations in the primary visual cortex (V1), thus providing a high-resolution method for identification of the OR with single axon resolution. The emergence of fibers from LGN, their entire course and even the entry points to V1 were clearly defined in coronal, parasagittal, and horizontal sections of marmoset brain. In all cases, the trajectory revealed by PV staining paralleled that defined by high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We found that V1 was the exclusive target for the PV-containing fibers, with abrupt transitions in staining observed in the white matter at the border with area V2, and no evidence of PV-labeled axons feeding into other visual areas. Changes in the pattern of PV staining in the OR were detected following V1 lesions, demonstrating that this method can be used to assess the progress of retrograde degeneration of geniculocortical projections. These results suggest a technically simple approach to advance our understanding of a major white matter structure, which provides a cellular resolution suitable for the detection of microstructural variations during development, health and disease. Understanding the relationship between PV staining and DTI in non-human primates may also offer clues for improving the specificity and sensitivity of OR tractography for clinical purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106608
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2023


  • Biological sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Molecular neuroscience
  • Neuroscience

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