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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jul;94(1):896-900. Epub 2005 Mar 30.

Does a unique type of CA3 pyramidal cell in primates bypass the dentate gate?

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Department of Comparative Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., R321 Edwards Bldg., Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5342. USA.


The predominant excitatory synaptic input to the hippocampus arises from entorhinal cortical axons that synapse with dentate granule cells, which in turn synapse with CA3 pyramidal cells. Thus two highly excitable brain areas--the entorhinal cortex and the CA3 field--are separated by dentate granule cells, which have been proposed to function as a gate or filter. However, unlike rats, primates have "dentate" CA3 pyramidal cells with an apical dendrite that extends into the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, where they could receive strong, monosynaptic, excitatory synaptic input from the entorhinal cortex. To test this possibility, the dentate gyrus molecular layer was stimulated while intracellular recordings were obtained from CA3 pyramidal cells in hippocampal slices from neurologically normal macaque monkeys. Stimulus intensity of the outer molecular layer of the dentate gyrus was standardized by the threshold intensity for evoking a dentate gyrus field potential population spike. Recorded proximal CA3 pyramidal cells were labeled with biocytin, processed with diaminobenzidine for visualization, and classified according to their dendritic morphology. In response to stimulation of the dentate gyrus molecular layer, action potential thresholds were similar in proximal CA3 pyramidal cells with different dendritic morphologies. These findings do not support the hypothesis that dentate CA3 pyramidal cells receive stronger synaptic input from the entorhinal cortex than do other proximal CA3 pyramidal cells.

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