The functional microscopic neuroanatomy of the human subthalamic nucleus

Anneke Alkemade, Gilles de Hollander, Steven Miletic, Max C Keuken, Rawien Balesar, Onno de Boer, Dick F Swaab, Birte U Forstmann

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is successfully used as a surgical target for deep brain stimulation in the treatment of movement disorders. Interestingly, the internal structure of the STN is still incompletely understood. The objective of the present study was to investigate three-dimensional (3D) immunoreactivity patterns for 12 individual protein markers for GABA-ergic, serotonergic, dopaminergic as well as glutamatergic signaling. We analyzed the immunoreactivity using optical densities and created a 3D reconstruction of seven postmortem human STNs. Quantitative modeling of the reconstructed 3D immunoreactivity patterns revealed that the applied protein markers show a gradient distribution in the STN. These gradients were predominantly organized along the ventromedial to dorsolateral axis of the STN. The results are of particular interest in view of the theoretical underpinning for surgical targeting, which is based on a tripartite distribution of cognitive, limbic and motor function in the STN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3213-3227
JournalBrain Structure & Function
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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