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Zeeh, Christina; Mayadali, Ümit S.; Horn, Anja K. E. (2020): Histochemical Characterization of the Vestibular Y-Group in Monkey. In: Cerebellum
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The Y-group plays an important role in the generation of upward smooth pursuit eye movements and contributes to the adaptive properties of the vertical vestibulo-ocular reflex. Malfunction of this circuitry may cause eye movement disorders, such as downbeat nystagmus. To characterize the neuron populations in the Y-group, we performed immunostainings for cellular proteins related to firing characteristics and transmitters (calretinin, GABA-related proteins and ion channels) in brainstem sections of macaque monkeys that had received tracer injections into the oculomotor nucleus. Two histochemically different populations of premotor neurons were identified: The calretinin-positive population represents the excitatory projection to contralateral upgaze motoneurons, whereas the GABAergic population represents the inhibitory projection to ipsilateral downgaze motoneurons. Both populations receive a strong supply by GABAergic nerve endings most likely originating from floccular Purkinje cells. All premotor neurons express nonphosphorylated neurofilaments and are ensheathed by strong perineuronal nets. In addition, they contain the voltage-gated potassium channels Kv1.1 and Kv3.1b which suggests biophysical similarities to high-activity premotor neurons of vestibular and oculomotor systems. The premotor neurons of Y-group form a homogenous population with histochemical characteristics compatible with fast-firing projection neurons that can also undergo plasticity and contribute to motor learning as found for the adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex in response to visual-vestibular mismatch stimulation. The histochemical characterization of premotor neurons in the Y-group allows the identification of the homologue cell groups in human, including their transmitter inputs and will serve as basis for correlated anatomical-neuropathological studies of clinical cases with downbeat nystagmus.