Organization of cholinergic, putative catecholaminergic and serotonergic nuclei in the diencephalon, mibrain and pons of sub-adult male giraffes

The current study describes the nuclear organization and neuronal morphology of the cholinergic, putative catecholaminergic and serotonergic systems within the diencephalon, midbrain and pons of the giraffe using immunohistochemistry for choline acetyltransferase, tyrosine hydroxylase and serotonin. The giraffe has a unique phenotype (the long neck), a large brain (over 500 g) and is a non-domesticated animal, while previous studies examining the brains of other Artiodactyls have all been undertaken on domesticated animals. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible differences in the nuclear organization and neuronal morphology of the above-mentioned systems compared to that seen in other Artiodactyls and mammals. The nuclear organization of all three systems within the giraffe brain was similar to that of other Artiodactyls. Some features of interest were noted for the giraffe and in comparison to other mammals studied. The cholinergic neuronal somata of the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus were slightly larger than those of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, a feature not described in other mammals. The putative catecholaminergic system of the giraffe appeared to lack an A15 dorsal nucleus, which is commonly seen in other mammals but absent in the Artiodactyls, had a large and expanded substantia nigra pars reticulata (A9 ventral), a small diffuse portion of the locus coerueleus (A6d), an expansive subcoeruleus (A7sc and A7d), and lacked the A4 nucleus of the locus coeruleus complex. The nuclear organization of the serotonergic system of the giraffe was identical to that seen in all other eutherian mammals studied to date. These observations in the giraffe demonstrate that despite significant changes in life history, phenotype, brain size and time of divergence, species within the same order show the same nuclear organization of the systems investigated.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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