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J Neurosci Res. 1989 Mar;22(3):305-21.

Pre- and post-natal ontogeny of serotonergic projections to the rat spinal cord.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie du Développement, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U. 249, Montpellier, France.


The development of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) innervation in the spinal cord was studied from embryonic day 14 (E14) to adulthood. Sprague-Dawley rats were fixed by perfusion with 5% glutaraldehyde in cacodylate-sodium metabisulfite buffer, and vibratome sections were processed for immunocytochemistry with a 5-HT antiserum. For electron microscopy, the sections were flat-embedded in araldite, and thin sectioning was performed. 5-HT neurons caudally directed from raphe nuclei invade the spinal cord at E14 and reach the caudalmost levels by E16-E17. In longitudinal sections, axons are seen by E15, at cervical and upper thoracic levels, to invade the presumptive gray matter from the anterior and lateral funiculi. The invasion process occurred either by sharp angulation of the axon or by branching of a collateral. By E16, at thoracic level the anterior horn and the intermediolateral columns are profusely innervated by very thin, varicose fibers; synapses are seen at E17 and E18 using EM. 5-HT immunoreactive boutons are involved here. After birth, 5-HT innervation of these two areas evolves progressively from a diffuse network to a more restricted pattern, especially at the thoracic level for the intermediolateral column and at cervical and lumbar levels for the anterior horn. The adult pattern is reached by postnatal day 21 (P21). The growth of axons toward the dorsal horn becomes noticeable by E19 at all spinal levels, when fibers invade the neck of the horn from the lateral funiculus, and innervation proceeds diffusely until P5. At P7, thin fibers course dorsally and laterally along the border of the gray matter and ramify profusely in layers I and II. The adult pattern is also reached in the dorsal horn by P21. These results are discussed in relation to the postnatal maturation of motor and sensory circuits and to the development of transplanted raphe neurons in the rat spinal cord.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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