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Epilepsia. 2012 Jun;53 Suppl 1:9-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2012.03470.x.

Mossy cell dendritic structure quantified and compared with other hippocampal neurons labeled in rats in vivo.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University,300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5342, U.S.A.


Mossy cells are likely to contribute to normal hippocampal function and to the pathogenesis of neurologic disorders that involve the hippocampus, including epilepsy. Mossy cells are the least well-characterized excitatory neurons in the hippocampus. Their somatic and dendritic morphology has been described qualitatively but not quantitatively. In the present study rat mossy cells were labeled intracellularly with biocytin in vivo. Somatic and dendritic structure was reconstructed three-dimensionally. For comparison, granule cells, CA3 pyramidal cells, and CA1 pyramidal cells were labeled and analyzed using the same approach. Among the four types of hippocampal neurons, granule cells had the smallest somata, fewest primary dendrites and dendritic branches, and shortest total dendritic length. CA1 pyramidal cells had the most dendritic branches and longest total dendritic length. Mossy cells and CA3 pyramidal cells both had large somata and similar total dendritic lengths. However, mossy cell dendrites branched less than CA3 pyramidal cells, especially close to the soma. These findings suggest that mossy cells have dendritic features that are not identical to any other type of hippocampal neuron. Therefore, electrotonic properties that depend on soma-dendritic structure are likely to be distinct in mossy cells compared to other neurons.

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