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Embryonic Origin of the Islet1 and Pax6 Neurons of the Chicken Central Extended Amygdala Using Cell Migration Assays and Relation to Different Neuropeptide-Containing Cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Alba Vicario
  • Antonio Abellán
  • Loreta Medina

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2015


In a recent study, we tentatively identified different subdivisions of the central extended amygdala (EAce) in chicken based on the expression of region-specific transcription factors (including Pax6 and Islet1) and several phenotypic markers during embryonic development. Such a proposal was partially based on the suggestion that, similarly to the subdivisions of the EAce of mammals, the Pax6 and Islet1 neurons of the comparable chicken subdivisions derive from the dorsal (Std) or ventral striatal embryonic domains (Stv), respectively. To investigate whether this is true, in the present study, we carried out cell migration assays from chicken Std or Stv combined with immunofluorescence for Pax6 or Islet1. Our results showed that the cells of the proposed chicken EAce truly originate in either Std (expressing Pax6) or Stv (expressing Islet1). This includes lateral subdivisions previously compared to the intercalated amygdalar cells and the central amygdala of mammals, also rich in Std-derived Pax6 cells and/or Stv-derived Islet1 cells. In the medial region of the chicken EAce, the dorsal part of the lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTL) contains numerous cells expressing Nkx2.1 (mostly derived from the pallidal domain), but our migration assays showed that it also contains neuron subpopulations from the Stv (expressing Islet1) and Std (expressing Pax6), resembling the mouse BSTL. These findings, together with those previously published in different species of mammals, birds and reptiles, support the homology of the chicken EAce to that of other vertebrates, and reinforce the existence of several cell subcorridors inside the EAce. In addition, together with previously published data on neuropeptidergic cells, these results led us to propose the existence of at least seventeen neuron subtypes in the EAce in rodents and/or some birds (chicken and pigeon). The functional significance and the evolutionary origin of each subtype needs to be analyzed separately, and such studies are mandatory in order to understand the multifaceted modulation by the EAce of fear responses, ingestion, motivation and pain in different vertebrates. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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