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Neurosci Res. 1999 Jan;33(1):9-15.

Early establishment of lesion-insensitive mature barrelettes corresponding to upper lip vibrissae in developing mice.

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Department of Anatomy, Hokkaido University School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.


Vibrissae are tactile sense organs on the face of non-human mammals, and build up topographical representations in the brainstem trigeminal sensory nucleus called barrelettes. In the present study, we examined postnatal development of barrelettes corresponding to upper lip vibrissae by cytochrome oxidase (CO) histochemistry. At nuclear regions corresponding to upper lip vibrissae, a few segregated barrelettes first appeared at postnatal day 2 (P2), and segregation became clear for most upper lip barrelettes at P4. Compared with major barrelettes corresponding to mystacial vibrissae on the snout, the development of segregated pattern formation for upper lip barrelettes was retarded by 1-2 days. When vibrissa-related patterns were examined 5 days after infraorbital nerve transection, upper lip barrelettes became obscure in all mice lesioned at P1 and P2. Lesion-insensitive upper lip barrelettes first emerged in a few mice lesioned at P3 (33%), and the percentage attained 100% at P6. This temporal transition from lesion-sensitive to lesion-insensitive barrelettes was 3 days ahead of mystacial barrelettes. Therefore, upper lip barrelettes achieve rapid development within a narrow time frame during the first postnatal week. The early and rapid establishment of lesion-insensitive, mature barrelettes can be interpreted as suggesting the importance of oral sensory function in neonatal life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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