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Neuroscience. 1986 Oct;19(2):465-93.

Prenatal ontogeny of the GABAergic system in the rat brain: an immunocytochemical study.


Prenatal development of the GABAergic system in the rat brain has been studied using an antiserum to GABA-glutaraldehyde-hemocyanin conjugates, specific for GABAergic neurons. The gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system has been found to differentiate very early relative to other transmitter-identified neurons, such that by embryonic day 13 a well developed fiber network exists in the brainstem, mesencephalon and diencephalon, including a large projection in the posterior commissure and adjacent areas on the surface of the mesencephalon and tectum. Although no cell bodies are visible at this time, it appears that these fibers originate from the caudal brainstem and spinal cord. GABAergic cell bodies begin to appear on embryonic day 14 in the lateral cortical anlage. By embryonic day 16, they are also visible in the basal forebrain and in all regions of cortex where they are located in three zones: in layer I, below the cortical plate, and in the intermediate zone. Also contained in the outer part of layer I is a dense fiber plexus which stains intensely for GABA. These fibers may be part of the first contingent of cortical afferents to invade the telencephalic vesicle, an event which is thought to be a stimulus for the beginning of neuronal differentiation in this region. By E18, two bands of immunoreactivity are visible in layer I, which probably contain both cell bodies and fibers. The trajectories taken by growing GABAergic fibers in the brainstem, mesencephalon and diencephalon at embryonic day 13 and at subsequent stages of development are coincident with regions of both monoaminergic and peptidergic differentiation and appear to correspond to recently reported patterns of benzodiazepine receptors which appear slightly later. The early differentiation of the GABAergic system could indicate a trophic role for GABA in early brain development, possibly involving receptors for this neurotransmitter or related substances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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