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Neuron. 2005 Apr 21;46(2):181-9.

Development of long-term dendritic spine stability in diverse regions of cerebral cortex.

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Molecular Neurobiology Program, Skirball Institute, Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10016, USA.


Synapse formation and elimination occur throughout life, but the magnitude of such changes at distinct developmental stages remains unclear. Using transgenic mice overexpressing yellow fluorescent protein and transcranial two-photon microscopy, we repeatedly imaged dendritic spines on the apical dendrites of layer 5 pyramidal neurons. In young adolescent mice (1-month-old), 13%-20% of spines were eliminated and 5%-8% formed over 2 weeks in barrel, motor, and frontal cortices, indicating a cortical-wide spine loss during this developmental period. As animals mature, there is also a substantial loss of dendritic filopodia involved in spinogenesis. In adult mice (4-6 months old), 3%-5% of spines were eliminated and formed over 2 weeks in various cortical regions. Over 18 months, only 26% of spines were eliminated and 19% formed in adult barrel cortex. Thus, after a concurrent loss of spines and spine precursors in diverse regions of young adolescent cortex, spines become stable and a majority of them can last throughout life.

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