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J Comp Neurol. 1992 Oct 22;324(4):539-56.

Ultrastructural development of the medial superior olive (MSO) in the ferret.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157-1010.


When ferrets are born, four weeks before the onset of hearing, few synapses are evident in the medial superior olive (MSO). The synapses present are immature and almost exclusively found in the neuropil. The MSO somata are virtually devoid of synaptic contacts but are contacted by fine glial processes that increasingly ensheathe the somata during the first postnatal week. By P12, somatic synaptogenesis in the MSO is evident. Initially the terminals contain vesicles of irregular shape, size, and distribution. The glial lamellae appear to withdraw as the synaptic contacts form but continue to cover the asynaptic portions of the cell surface. The lamellae frequently extend from ensheathing the soma to encapsulate the immature terminals. During the next two weeks, synaptic density and terminal encapsulation proceed until the somata is surrounded by encapsulated synaptic terminals as in the adult ferret MSO. While most immature terminals contain round vesicles, during the first postnatal week some terminals with nonround vesicles can be distinguished. The first distinction between types of nonround vesicle-containing terminals, i.e., pleiomorphic and ovoid, is in the second postnatal week. This distinction becomes increasingly clear and by the end of the first postnatal month, terminal types can be reliably categorized. These observations indicate that: (1) synapses are present in the MSO neuropil one month prior to the onset of hearing, (2) the major period of synaptogenesis begins approximately two weeks prior to the onset of hearing, and (3) glial lamellae ensheathe MSO somata prior to the onset of somatic synaptogenesis, withdraw as synapses form, and subsequently re-extend to encapsulate newly formed synapses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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