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Behav Brain Res. 2008 Apr 9;188(2):348-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2007.11.019. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Effects of adult dysthyroidism on the morphology of hippocampal neurons.

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Department of Pedagogy, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.


This study investigates the effect of thyroid hormones on the morphology of hippocampal neurons in adult rats. Hypo- and hyperthyroidism were induced by adding 0.02% methimazole and 1% l-thyroxine, in drinking water from 40 days of age, respectively. When the rats were 89 days old their brains were removed and stained by a modified Golgi method and blood samples were collected in order to measure T4 serum levels. Neurons were selected and drawn using a camera lucida. Our results show that methimazole administration reduces the dendritic branching of the apical shafts of CA3 and CA1 pyramidal neurons mainly by increasing the distance to the first branch point in both types of neurons, and reducing branch points in the radius of 50 microm from the soma in CA1 neurons. Nevertheless, it was observed an increase of apical spine density in CA3 neurons from this group. Thyroxine reduces apical and basal tree of CA3 pyramidal neurons increasing the distance to the first branch point, reducing branch points in the radius of 50 microm from the soma and increases their apical and basal spine density. In CA1 field, thyroxine reduces the number of basal branch points. Both treatments seems to provoke alterations in the same direction reducing the dendritic branching and increasing spine density, although no significances appeared in some of the parameters analyzed. The effects are more evident in thyroxine than methimazole group; and in CA3 neurons than in CA1 neurons. In discussion it is pointed that the increase of spine density could be a mechanism to compensate the functionality reduction that can be provoke by the treatment effect on dendritic branching.

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