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In the current study we examined the number, distribution, and aspects of the neurochemical identities of infracortical white matter neurons, also termed white matter interstitial cells (WMICs), in the brains of a southern lesser galago (Galago moholi), a black-capped squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis) and a crested macaque (Macaca nigra). Staining for neuronal nuclear marker (NeuN) revealed WMICs throughout the infracortical white matter, these cells being most dense close to inner cortical border, decreasing in density with depth in the white matter. Stereological analysis of NeuN-immunopositive cells revealed estimates of approximately 1.1 million, 10.8 million, and 37.7 million WMICs within the infracortical white matter of the galago, squirrel monkey and crested macaque, respectively. The total numbers of WMICs form a distinct negative allometric relationship with brain mass and white matter volume when examined in a larger sample of primates where similar measures have been obtained. In all three primates studied, the highest densities of WMICs were in the white matter of the frontal lobe, with the occipital lobe having the lowest. Immunostaining revealed significant subpopulations of WMICs containing neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and calretinin, with very few WMICs containing parvalbumin, and none containing calbindin. The nNOS and calretinin immunopositive WMICs, represent approximately 21% of the total WMIC population; however, variances in the proportions of these neurochemical phenotypes were noted. Our results indicate that both the squirrel monkey and crested macaque might be informative animal models for the study of WMICs in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders in humans. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


J Comp Neurol

Publication Date



white matter neurons; neurochemistry; immunohistochemistry; cortical evolution; primate brain; RRID - AB_11204707; RRID - AB_10000343; RRID - AB_10000340; RRID - AB_10000321; RRID - AB_91824