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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1993 Jul;188(1):63-73.

Postnatal development of parvalbumin and calbindin D28K immunoreactivities in the cerebral cortex of the rat.

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Unit of Neuropathology, Hospital Príncipes de España, Faculty of Medicine, Spain.


Parvalbumin and calbindin D28k immunoreactivities were examined in the neocortex of the rat during postnatal development. Parvalbumin-immunoreactive nonpyramidal neurons first appear in layer V and later in layers VI and IV, and then in II and III. Immunoreactive terminals forming baskets surrounding unlabelled somata appear about 2 days later. The first parvalbumin-immunoreactive neurons appear in the retrosplenial and cingulate cortices, and the rostral region of the primary somatosensory cortex at postnatal days 8 or 9 (P8-P9). These regions are followed by the primary visual, primary auditory and motor cortices at P11. Parvalbumin immunoreactivity appears last in the secondary areas of the sensory regions and association cortices. Adult patterns are reached at the end of the 3rd week. Calbindin D28K-immunoreactive nonpyramidal neurons are found at birth in all cortical layers excepting the molecular layer. The intensity of the immunoreaction increases during the first 8 or 11 days of postnatal life, first in the inner and later in the upper cortical layers, following, therefore, an "inside-out" gradient. Heavily-labelled calbindin D28K-immunoreactive nonpyramidal cells dramatically decrease in number from P11 to P15 due mainly to a decrease of the multipolar subtypes. This suggests that two populations of calbindin D28k-immunoreactive nonpyramidal neurons are produced in the neocortex during postnatal development: one population of neurons transitorily expresses calbindin D28k immunoreactivity; the other population is composed of neurons that are permanently calbindin D28k immunoreactive. In addition to heavily labelled nonpyramidal cells, a band of weakly labelled pyramid-like neurons progressively appears in layers II and III throughout the cerebral cortex, beginning in layer IV in the somatosensory cortex by the end of the 2st week. Adult patterns are reached at the end of the 3rd week. These results indicate that parvalbumin and calbindin D28k immunoreactivities in the cerebral neocortex follow different characteristic patterns during postnatal development. The appearance of parvalbumin immunoreactivity correlates with the appearance of the related functional activity in the different cortical regions, and, probably, with the appearance of inhibitory activity in the neocortex. On the other hand, the early appearance of calbindin D28k immunoreactivity in the neocortex may be related to the early appearance of calbindin immunoreactivity in many other brain regions, and suggests another, as yet unknown, role for this calcium-binding protein during development of the cerebral cortex.

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