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A large population of infracortical white matter neurons, or white matter interstitial cells (WMICs), are found within the subcortical white matter of the mammalian telencephalon. We examined WMICs in three species of megachiropterans, Megaloglossus woermanni, Casinycteris argynnis, and Rousettus aegyptiacus, using immunohistochemical and stereological techniques. Immunostaining for neuronal nuclear marker (NeuN) revealed substantial numbers of WMICs in each species-M. woermanni 124,496 WMICs, C. argynnis 138,458 WMICs, and the larger brained R. aegyptiacus having an estimated WMIC population of 360,503. To examine the range of inhibitory neurochemical types we used antibodies against parvalbumin, calbindin, calretinin, and neural nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). The calbindin and nNOS immunostained neurons were the most commonly observed, while those immunoreactive for calretinin and parvalbumin were sparse. The proportion of WMICs exhibiting inhibitory neurochemical profiles was ~26%, similar to that observed in previously studied primates. While for the most part the WMIC population in the megachiropterans studied was similar to that observed in other mammals, the one feature that differed was the high proportion of WMICs immunoreactive to calbindin, whereas in primates (macaque monkey, lar gibbon and human) the highest proportion of inhibitory WMICs contain calretinin. Interestingly, there appears to be an allometric scaling of WMIC numbers with brain mass. Further quantitative comparative work across more mammalian species will reveal the developmental and evolutionary trends associated with this infrequently studied neuronal population.

Original publication




Journal article


J Comp Neurol

Publication Date



RRID: AB_10000321, RRID: AB_10000340, RRID: AB_10000343, RRID: AB_11204707, RRID: AB_91824, bat brain, cortical evolution, immunohistochemistry, white matter interstitial cells, white matter neurons