Distribution of neuronal nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactive neurons in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus during postnatal development


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Abstract

SummaryAlthough many reports have argued a role for nitric oxide (NO) during postnatal development, there has been no combined demonstration in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. We have investigated the distribution and morphology of neurons and fibers expressing neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) in the cerebral cortex and hippocampal formation of rats during the postnatal development, and correlated these findings with developmental events taking place in these regions. In the cerebral cortex, the nNOS-immunoreactive cells could be divided into two classes: heavily stained neurons and lightly stained neurons. For the lightly stained nNOS-positive neurons, only the cell bodies were observed, whereas for the heavily stained neurons, the cell bodies and their dendrites were visible. During the postnatal days, heavily stained neurons reached their typical morphology in the second week and appeared in all layers except for layer I. In the hippocampus, there was a transient expression of nNOS in the pyramidal cell layer at P3–P7, and this expression disappeared during following days. The adult pattern of staining developed gradually during the postnatal period. This study suggested that these alterations might reflect a region-specific role of NO and a potential developmental role in the postnatal cerebral cortex and hippocampus

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