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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1992 Jul 24;68(1):83-95.

Transient c-fos expression accompanies naturally occurring cell death in the developing interhemispheric cortex of the rat.

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Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain.


We have searched for the possible correlation of naturally occurring cell death with spontaneously enhanced c-fos expression in the developing cerebral cortex of normal Wistar albino rats. During the late prenatal and early postnatal period, cells with irregular contours and intracytoplasmic electron-dense granules (granule-containing cells) were apparent in the interhemispheric cortex, including the anterior cingulate and the retrosplenial cortices. These cells were loosely packed within the cortical layers derived from the cortical plate. Having excluded the possibility that these cells could be phagocytes by immunocytochemical experiments, we propose that they are cells in different phases of a process of autophagic degeneration and death. Images of extreme nuclear pyknosis were also apparent in identical locations. Cells showing immunoreactivity for c-Fos protein appeared in the same cortical areas. The immunoreactive cells were very abundant in the retrosplenial cortex, but were also present in the anterior cingulate cortex. These cells showed markedly irregular contours and large, densely immunoreactive intracytoplasmic inclusions; these images were similar to those of granule-containing cells revealed by conventional stains. The immunoreactivity for c-Fos protein was ephemeral, occurring exclusively during embryonic days 20 and 21, but granule-containing cells were observed for a longer period. The present results provide evidence, albeit indirect, that c-fos expression may occur in certain neural cells at the onset of a process of death by autophagia, and suggest a possible involvement of the proto-oncogene c-fos in certain forms of naturally occurring neuronal death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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