Histochemical evidence of altered development of cholinergic fibers in the rat dentate gyrus following lesions. I. Time course after complete unilateral entorhinal lesion at various ages.
The entorhinal cortex of rats was removed at various times during development, and the reaction of the cholinergic septohippocampal input to the dentate gyrus was examined by use of acetylcholinesterase histochemistry. When the ipsilateral entorhinal cortex is completely removed, the outer 70-75% of the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus is almost completely denervated. After such a lesion at 5 to 33 days of age, the acetylcholinesterase staining initially intensified throughout the denervated area, indicating that the septohippocampal fibers branched or elongated. This reaction could be detected within one day after a lesion at 11 days of age and within three or five days after lesions at earlier or later times. Whereas the initial response of the septohippocampal fibers was independent of the age at which the lesion was made, their final localization depended on the developmental state of the animal. After lesions at the age of 5 or 11 days, the reactive septohippocampal fibers became restricted to the outer one-sixth to one-third of the molecular layer within two days after appearance of their initial reaction. A similar concentration of reactive fibers was demonstrable after lesions at 16, 18 or 21 days of age, but some reaction persisted in the middle third of the molecular layer. Finally, after lesions at 26 or 33 days of age the proliferating cholinergic fibers ultimately were uniformly distributed throughout the outer 60% of the molecular layer. These results suggest that septohippocampal fibers initially extend or sprout throughout the denervated area to replace the lost perforant path fibers. However, the reactive fiber population becomes restricted to the outer edge of the molecular layer if the entorhinal lesion is made before the period of cholinergic synaptogenesis and concentrates in this same zone if it is made while cholinergic synapses are forming. We suggest that either the proliferative reaction continues in the outer part of the molecular layer and subsides in other parts of the denervated area or septohippocampal fibers move outward through the molecular layer to assume a more superficial location. After entorhinal lesions at 16 days of age or later the pale-staining zone (containing fibers that originate in hippocampus regio inferior) immediately deep to the denervated area widened. If the lesion was made earlier, this zone never developed at most septotemporal levels of the dentate gyrus. These results are probably related to the extension of regio inferior fibers into the denervated area.
Nadler, JV; Cotman, CW; Lynch, GS
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