Total number, distribution, and phenotype of cells expressing chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in the normal human amygdala.
Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) are a key structural component of the brain extracellular matrix. They are involved in critical neurodevelopmental functions and are one of the main components of pericellular aggregates known as perineuronal nets. As a step toward investigating their functional and pathophysiological roles in the human amygdala, we assessed the pattern of CSPG expression in the normal human amygdala using wisteria floribunda agglutinin (WFA) lectin histochemistry. Total numbers of WFA-labeled elements were measured in the lateral (LN), basal (BN), accessory basal (ABN) and cortical (CO) nuclei of the amygdala from 15 normal adult human subjects. For interspecies qualitative comparison, we also investigated the pattern of WFA labeling in the amygdala of naïve rats (n=32) and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta; n=6). In human amygdala, WFA lectin histochemistry resulted in labeling of perineuronal nets and cells with clear glial morphology, while neurons did not show WFA labeling. Total numbers of WFA-labeled glial cells showed high interindividual variability. These cells aggregated in clusters with a consistent between-subjects spatial distribution. In a subset of human subjects (n=5), dual color fluorescence using an antibody raised against glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and WFA showed that the majority (93.7%) of WFA-labeled glial cells correspond to astrocytes. In rat and monkey amygdala, WFA histochemistry labeled perineuronal nets, but not glial cells. These results suggest that astrocytes are the main cell type expressing CSPGs in the adult human amygdala. Their highly segregated distribution pattern suggests that these cells serve specialized functions within human amygdalar nuclei.