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Brain Struct Funct. 2016 Mar;221(2):839-54. doi: 10.1007/s00429-014-0939-x. Epub 2014 Nov 9.

Morphology and dendritic maturation of developing principal neurons in the rat basolateral amygdala.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders, Yerkes Research Center, Emory University School of Medicine, 954 Gatewood Rd., Atlanta, GA, 30033, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders, Yerkes Research Center, Emory University School of Medicine, 954 Gatewood Rd., Atlanta, GA, 30033, USA. drainni@emory.edu.

Abstract

The basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) assigns emotional valence to sensory stimuli, and many amygdala-dependent behaviors undergo marked development during postnatal life. We recently showed principal neurons in the rat BLA undergo dramatic changes to their electrophysiological properties during the first postnatal month, but no study to date has thoroughly characterized changes to morphology or gene expression that may underlie the functional development of this neuronal population. We addressed this knowledge gap with reconstructions of biocytin-filled principal neurons in the rat BLA at postnatal days 7 (P7), 14, 21, 28, and 60. BLA principal neurons underwent a number of morphological changes, including a twofold increase in soma volume from P7 to P21. Dendritic arbors expanded significantly during the first postnatal month and achieved a mature distribution around P28, in terms of total dendritic length and distance from soma. The number of primary dendrites and branch points were consistent with age, but branch points were found farther from the soma in older animals. Dendrites of BLA principal neurons at P7 had few spines, and spine density increased nearly fivefold by P21. Given the concurrent increase in dendritic material, P60 neurons had approximately 17 times as many total spines as P7 neurons. Together, these developmental transitions in BLA principal neuron morphology help explain a number of concomitant electrophysiological changes during a critical period in amygdala development.

KEYWORDS:

Basal amygdala; Dendritic spine; Pyramidal; Sholl analysis

PMID:
25381464
PMCID:
PMC4426093
[Available on 2017-03-01]
DOI:
10.1007/s00429-014-0939-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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