Hear Res 2011 Apr 4;274(1-2):5-12. Epub 2010 Mar 4.
Division of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, CA 94720-3200, USA.
Brain neural activity depends critically on the blood supply to a given structure. The blood supply can differ within and between divisions, which may have functional significance. We analyzed the microvascular organization of the cat inferior colliculus (IC) to determine if the capillary distribution is homogenous throughout. The IC consists of the central nucleus (CN), the dorsal cortex (DC), and the lateral cortex (LC), each with different roles in auditory behavior and perception. Plastic-embedded tissue was studied from adult cats in 1-μm thick semi-thin sections stained with toluidine blue; tissue was sampled from the IC in a caudal-rostral series of sections. The architectonic subdivisions were drawn independently based on Golgi impregnations. We used the nearest neighbor distance (NND) method to quantify capillary density between subdivisions. Overall, the distribution of capillary density was non-homogenous across the IC. We found significant capillary NND differences between the CN and LC (Mann-Whitney test; p ≤ 0.05), CN and DC (Mann-Whitney test; p ≤ 0.05), and LC and DC (Mann-Whitney test; p ≤ 0.05). The CN had the lowest NND values among all three divisions, indicating the highest capillary density. NND values changed gradually as analysis moved from the center of the IC towards the periphery. The significantly higher microvascular density in the CN may imply that the lemniscal auditory pathway has higher levels of blood flow and metabolic activity than non-lemniscal areas of the IC. The non-homogenous microvascular organization of the IC supports parcellation schemes that delineate three major subdivisions and confirms that the borders between the three regions are not sharp.