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Exp Neurol. 2000 Mar;162(1):225-33.

Laminar distribution of isocortical neurons projecting to occipital grafts in neonate and adult rats.

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Département Neurosciences, Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, UMR 6558 CNRS, Faculté des Sciences, 40 avenue du Recteur Pineau, Poitiers, F-86022, France.


Physiologically responsive grafts of embryonic (E16) occipital neurons placed into the visual cortex of adult rats were shown previously (Gaillard et al., 1998, Restor. Neurol. Neurosci. 12: 13-25) to receive a predominant (93-97%) cortical input from the infragranular layers V-VI. The present paper examines whether this specific pattern of connections is related to some process of maturation of the host cortex. Pieces of embryonic (E16) occipital cortical tissue were grafted into the visual cortex of neonate (P0), 1-week-old (P7), and adult (P120) subjects. Four months later, graft responsiveness was assessed through field potential recordings and host-to-graft afferents were labeled with a retrograde tracer (cholera toxin subunit B). The data show first that afferents to physiologically active grafts originate about equally from both supra- and infragranular cortical layers in newborn subjects and second that supragranular neurons contribute only 20 and 1.5% of these inputs in P7 and P120 recipients, respectively. This strong upside-down laminar shift of afferents may correlate with the layout of subsets of host neurons that at a given developmental stage would have the intrinsic capacity to regrow an axon. Substantial axogenesis and synaptic stabilization of host-to-graft cortical afferents appear possible only within the critical period for the supragranular neurons but may occur throughout life for the infragranular neurons.

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