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Brain Res Rev. 2007 Oct;55(2):390-4. Epub 2006 Dec 23.

Dendritic development of newly generated neurons in the adult brain.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-1275, USA.


Ramon y Cajal described the fundamental morphology of the dendritic and axonal growth cones of neurons during development. However, technical limitations at the time prevented him from describing such growth cones from newborn neurons in the adult brain. The phenomenon of adult neurogenesis is briefly reviewed, and the structural description of dendritic and axonal outgrowth for these newly generated neurons in the adult brain is discussed. Axonal outgrowth into the hilus and CA3 region of the hippocampus occurs later than the outgrowth of dendrites into the molecular layer, and the ultrastructural analysis of axonal outgrowth has yet to be completed. In contrast, growth cones on dendrites from newborn neurons in the adult dentate gyrus have been described and this observation suggests that dendrites in adult brains grow in a similar way to those found in immature brains. However, dendrites in adult brains have to navigate through a denser neuropil and a more complex cell layer. Therefore, some aspects of dendritic outgrowth of neurons born in the adult dentate gyrus are different as compared to that found in development. These differences include the radial process of radial glial cells acting as a lattice to guide apical dendritic growth through the granule cell layer and a much thinner dendrite to grow through the neuropil of the molecular layer. Therefore, similarities and differences exist for dendritic outgrowth from newborn neurons in the developing and adult brain.

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