Laminar Differences in Dendritic Structure of Pyramidal Neurons in the Juvenile Rat Somatosensory Cortex

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Pyramidal cell structure varies between different cortical areas and species, indicating that the cortical circuits that these cells participate in are likely to be characterized by different functional capabilities. Structural differences between cortical layers have been traditionally reported using either the Golgi method or intracellular labeling, but the structure of pyramidal cells has not previously been systematically analyzed across all cortical layers at a particular age. In the present study, we investigated the dendritic architecture of complete basal arbors of pyramidal neurons in layers II, III, IV, Va, Vb, and VI of the hindlimb somatosensory cortical region of postnatal day 14 rats. We found that the characteristics of basal dendritic morphologies are statistically different in each cortical layer. The variations in size and branching pattern that exist between pyramidal cells of different cortical layers probably reflect the particular functional properties that are characteristic of the cortical circuit in which they participate. This new set of complete basal dendritic arbors of 3D-reconstructed pyramidal cell morphologies across each cortical layer will provide new insights into interlaminar information processing in the cerebral cortex.

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