Indexed on: 01 Dec '89Published on: 01 Dec '89Published in: Journal of Comparative Neurology
Autoradiographic and Golgi techniques are used to study the origin, developmental characteristics, and adult morphology of the cells of sublayer VIb in the somatosensory cortex of the rat. In the adult rat, this sublayer forms a stratum of two to three rows of cells located immediately above the white matter. It is clearly separated from the remaining cortical layers by a light plexus of fibers. The cortical plate begins to appear in the lateral wall of the brain hemisphere at embryonic day 15 (E15). By using tritiated thymidine autoradiography, we can see that cells generated between E12 and E14 become located in layers I, V, and VI in the adult. After injections on E12, heavily labeled cells were found almost exclusively in layer I and in sublayer VIb, indicating that these are the earliest generated cells in the neocortex of the rat. No labeled cells were found in sublayer VIb after injection on E15. We describe the morphology of cells of layer VI from E15 to the adult using the Golgi technique. Our observations show the existence of different types of cells, among which we found horizontal bipolar cells very early during development. They transform into horizontal and inverted pyramidal cells, which are the predominant morphological types found in the adult. Horizontal cells lie at the lower part of sublayer VIb. Inverted pyramidal cells have descending apical dendrites penetrating the white matter. Their axons form ascending loops turning into projection fibers. A correlation with previous studies and some functional implications indicating the unique role of sublayer VIb in the rat during development and in the adult are discussed.