Send to

Choose Destination
J Comp Neurol. 1992 Nov 22;325(4):514-26.

Development of commissural neurons in the embryonic rat spinal cord.

Author information

Department of Neurology and Neurological Surgery (Neurology), Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.


Little is known about the development of the various populations of interneurons in the mammalian spinal cord. We have utilized the lipid-soluble tracer DiI in fixed tissue to study the migration and dendritic arborization of spinal neurons with axons in the ventral commissure in embryonic rats. Crystals of DiI were placed in various locations in the thoracic spinal cord in order to label commissural neurons within the dorsal horn, intermediate zone, and ventral horn at E13.5, E15, E17, and E19. Seven different groups of commissural interneurons are present in the spinal cord by E13.5. Migration is relatively simple with groups occupying a position along the dorsoventral axis roughly corresponding to their position of origin along the neuroepithelium. By E15, commissural cells are near their final locations and exhibit characteristic morphology. One striking feature is the tendency of cells with similar morphology to cluster in distinct groups. By E19, at least 18 different types of commissural interneurons can be identified on morphological grounds. Although the situation is complex, some generalities about dendritic morphology are apparent. Commissural neurons located in the dorsal horn are small and have highly branched dendrites oriented along the dorsoventral axis. In more ventral regions, commissural neurons are larger and possess dendritic arbors oriented obliquely or parallel to the mediolateral axis with long dendrites extending toward the lateral and ventral funiculi. The number of primary dendrites of most groups is set by E15 and dendritic growth occurs in the transverse plane by lengthening and branching of these primary processes. This study demonstrates that a large number of classes of commissural interneurons can be recognized on the basis of characteristic morphologies and locations within the dorsal horn, intermediate zone and ventral horn of the embryonic rat spinal cord. This finding is consistent with the fact that commissural neurons project to many different targets and mediate a variety of different functions. The demonstration that dendritic arbors of spinal interneurons with characteristic morphologies can be conveniently labelled with DiI should prove useful in future studies on the development of specific circuits in the mammalian spinal cord.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center