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J Comp Neurol. 1987 Oct 1;264(1):1-13.

Growth of hippocampal mossy fibers: a lesion and coculture study of organotypic slice cultures.

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Institute of Anatomy, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


In hippocampal slice cultures, the mossy fibers from the dentate granule cells project as normally to cells in the dentate hilus (CA4) and the hippocampal CA3 pyramidal cells. After lesions in vivo and intracerebral transplantation, the mossy fibers can alter their normal distribution within CA3 and even contact CA1 pyramidal cells. The present study examined whether similar changes could be induced in the more simple, virtual two-dimensionally organized slice cultures. For this purpose slices of 7-day-old hippocampi were prepared and subjected to one of the two following manipulations: (1) transection of the mossy fiber layer in CA3 or (2) rearrangement of the geometrical relations between the dentate granule cells in their potential targets (CA3 and CA1) by coculturing dentate slices with CA3 or CA1 slices. Two to 8 weeks later the distribution of the mossy fiber system was visualized by histochemical Timm sulphide silver staining of the terminals. The distribution of the mossy fiber system observed in previous studies of ordinary hippocampal slice cultures was confirmed. In addition, mossy fibers were found to cross the cuts through the mossy fiber layer with formation of a reduced number of characteristic Timm-stained terminals in CA3 distal to the lesion. Close proximity and contiguity of the cut surfaces were important for such growth to occur. Significantly fewer mossy fiber terminals were found when separate slices of dentate and CA3 tissue were joined and grown as cocultures. Similar apposition of slices of dentate and CA1 tissue only rarely resulted in the ingrowth of mossy fibers into CA1. The Timm-stained mossy fiber terminals were then of subnormal size. The results show the potentials of the slice culture technique in supplementing lesion and transplant studies in situ. The growth of mossy fibers across a transection of their pathway is thus a new observation, difficult to demonstrate in the brain. The limited growth in the cocultures of aberrant mossy fibers into Ca1 does, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of close structural contact for the formation of nerve connections, and such contact is apparently more easily obtained in the brain. When the growth of the mossy fibers and that of the cholinergic septohippocampal fibers are compared, it is evident that the cholinergic axons grow better both in vitro and in vivo after lesions and transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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