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Exp Brain Res. 2001 Jun;138(3):343-51.

Plastic response of the retrospleniocollicular connection after removal of retinal inputs in neonatal rats. An anterograde tracing study.

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Department of Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of the Basque Country, 48940-Leioa, Bizkaia, Spain.


The effects of neonatal enucleation on the final adult pattern of retrospleniocollicular connection in the rat was studied using the anterograde tracer biotindextranamine 10,000 (BDA) iontophoretically injected in different anteroposterior locations of the retrosplenial cortex. Retrosplenial afferents are normally distributed in all collicular layers beneath the stratum griseum superficiale (SGS) throughout almost the entire rostrocaudal and lateromedial collicular axes. Neonatal enucleation caused an invasion of lower SGS by abundant retrosplenial afferents, whose distribution remained unaltered in intermediate and deep collicular layers. Axons entering the deafferented SGS showed variable morphologies and arborization patterns. Some of them ran lateromedially close to the SGS-stratum opticum (-SO) limit, giving rise to many collaterals which invaded the lower part of the SGS; whereas others formed narrow terminal arbors, mostly branching in the SO. In the intermediate layers, synaptic profiles were mainly found close to the borders of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) patches in both control and enucleated animals, indicating that neonatal enucleation does not alter the final pattern of retrospleniocollicular afferents to these collicular regions. The results presented here demonstrate that neonatal enucleation leads to the development of an aberrant projection from the retrosplenial cortex to the deafferented superficial layers of the superior colliculus. These results provide new information regarding the reorganization of connections subsequent to neonatal enucleation and suggest that, in enucleated animals, nonvisual multisensorial information could be relayed to central circuits which in intact animals belong to the visual system.

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