Distribution of vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2) in the primary visual cortex of the macaque and human

Virginia Garcia-Marin, Tunazzina H. Ahmed, Yasmeen C. Afzal, Michael J. Hawken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of thalamic terminals in V1 arise from lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) afferents. Thalamic afferent terminals are preferentially labeled by an isoform of the vesicular glutamate transporter, VGluT2. The goal of our study was to determine the distribution of VGluT2-ir puncta in macaque and human visual cortex. First, we investigated the distribution of VGluT2-ir puncta in all layers of macaque monkey primary visual cortex (V1), and found a very close correspondence between the known distribution of LGN afferents from previous studies and the distribution of VGluT2-immunoreactive (-ir) puncta. There was also a close correspondence between cytochrome oxidase density and VGluT2-ir puncta distribution. After validating the correspondence in macaque, we made a comparative study in human V1. In many aspects, the distribution of VGluT2-ir puncta in human was qualitatively similar to that of the macaque: high densities in layer 4C, patches of VGluT2-ir puncta in the supragranular layer (2/3), lower but clear distribution in layers 1 and 6, and very few puncta in layers 5 and 4B. However, there were also important differences between macaques and humans. In layer 4A of human, there was a sparse distribution of VGluT2-ir puncta, whereas in macaque, there was a dense distribution with the characteristic honeycomb organization. The results suggest important changes in the pattern of cortical VGluT2 immunostaining that may be related to evolutionary differences in the cortical organization of LGN afferents between Old World monkeys and humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-151
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Cytochrome oxidase
  • Thalamic afferents
  • V1 cortical layers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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