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J Comp Neurol. 1984 Sep 20;228(3):432-46.

Cellular and connective organization of slice cultures of the rat hippocampus and fascia dentata.


This study examined the cellular and connective organization of hippocampal tissue taken from 6-8-day-old rats and cultured by the roller tube technique for 3-6 weeks. In the cultures containing the fascia dentata and the hippocampus proper (CA1, CA3, CA4) the main cell and neuropil layers were organotypically organized when observed in ordinary cell stains. The normal distribution of smaller cell populations of AChE-positive neurons and somatostatin-reactive neurons was demonstrated by histochemical and immunohistochemical methods. Both cell types were mainly confined to str. oriens of CA3 and CA1 and the dentate hilus (CA4). Individual dentate granule cells and hippocampal pyramidal cells were injected with lucifer yellow and HRP, revealing great stability of the dendritic patterns of these cells in the culture condition. The same was found for the axonal branching and termination of HRP-filled mossy fibers arising from an HRP-injected granule cell. The preservation of organotypic afferent patterns in the cultures was also shown by Timm staining of the terminal distribution of the mossy fiber system. Mossy fiber terminals, with characteristic ultrastructural features verified in the electron microscope, were thus found in the hilus (CA4) and along the CA3 pyramidal cell layer onto the CA3-CA1 transition. Depending on the amount of dentate tissue relative to CA3 the terminals could stop before reaching CA1 (small fascia dentata) or take up additional intra and infrapyramidal locations along CA3 (small CA3). In cultures with a gap in the CA3 pyramidal cell layer some mossy fiber terminals were found in contact with the CA3 pyramidal cells beyond the gap. In all cultures there was an aberrant projection of supragranular mossy fibers. This projection is analogous to the one known from lesion and transplant studies to form in the absence of the entorhinal perforant path input to the dentate molecular layer. Also, in accordance with these studies the Timm staining pattern of the outer parts of the dentate molecular layer and the entire molecular layer of the hippocampus was altered corresponding to the spread of afferents normally confined to the inner zone of the dentate and str. radiatum of CA3 and CA1. Possibly as a consequence of the lack of normal targets for projections from CA1, this subfield contained an unusually dense Timm staining suggestive of autoinnervation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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