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Retinal projections and neurochemical characterization of the pregeniculate nucleus of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)

Lima, RR;Pinato, L;Nascimento, RB;Engelberth, RC;Nascimento, ES;Cavalcante, JC;Britto, LR;Costa, MS;Cavalcante, JS;

In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and the intergeniculate leaflet (IGL) are the main components of the circadian timing system. The SCN is the site of the endogenous biological clock that generates rhythms and synchronizes them to environmental cues. The IGL is a key structure that modulates SCN activity and is responsible for the transmission of non-photic information to the SCN, thus participating in the integration between photic and non-photic stimuli. Both the SCN and IGL receive projections of retinal ganglion cells and the IGL is connected to the SCN through the geniculohypothalamic tract. Little is known about these structures in the primate brain and the pregeniculate nucleus (PGN) has been suggested to be the primate equivalent of the rodent IGL. The aim of this study was to characterize the PGN of a primate, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), and to analyze its retinal afferents. Here, the marmoset PGN was found to be organized into three subsectors based on neuronal size, pattern of retinal projections, and the distribution of neuropeptide Y-, GAD-, serotonin-, enkephalin- and substance P-labeled terminals. This pattern indicates that the marmoset PGN is equivalent to the IGL. This detailed description contributes to the understanding of the circadian timing system in this primate species considering the importance of the IGL within the context of circadian regulation.