Vibrissectomy induced changes in GAP-43 immunoreactivity in the adult rat barrel cortex.

Article date: 1992/1/8

PubMed ID: 1531989

Journal name: The Journal of comparative neurology (ISSN: 0021-9967)


Within the rat primary somatosensory cortex, neurons responding principally to movement of each individual mystacial vibrissa are grouped together in structures termed barrels. Previous studies have examined changes in the area of cortex showing increased 2-deoxyglucose uptake in response to vibrissal stimulation. These studies have shown that chronic removal of all but the central (C3) vibrissa in adult rats induces an enlarged representation of the remaining C3 barrel in the contralateral cortex. This increase is prevented by cortical norepinephrine depletion. The major question raised by such studies is whether such plasticity is due to structural rearrangement or unmasking of otherwise silent synapses. In this study, antibodies to GAP-43, a presynaptic protein whose synthesis is related to neuronal development and regeneration, were used to investigate this issue. In adult rat brain, tangential sections through layer IV of the barrel receptor field normally show moderate levels of GAP-43 immunoreactivity (GAP-IR) in the inter-barrel septa and low levels within the barrels themselves. The present study examined changes in the pattern of GAP-IR from 1 to 8 weeks after vibrissectomy with sparing of C3 as an index of possible physical reorganization of cortical circuits. Quantitative analysis of the cortices of animals with unilateral vibrissectomy with sparing of C3 showed that the area of low GAP-IR within the barrels surrounding C3 was decreased at 1 week (8.4% shrinkage; P less than 0.01) and 8 weeks (12.0% shrinkage; P less than 0.015), relative to the cortex ipsilateral to the surgery. Both bilateral vibrissectomy with sparing of C3 and ibotenic acid lesions of the ventrobasal thalamus produced similar results. Some evidence was also seen that the area of low GAP-IR in the C3 barrel shrank to a similar degree after such manipulations. Cortical norepinephrine depletion had no apparent effect on vibrissectomy-induced GAP-IR changes. These results suggest that removal of vibrissal input to the adult rat barrel cortex produces transynaptic induction of axonal sprouting within the barrel cortex.

Author List: Dunn-Meynell A A, Benowitz L I, Levin B E

Publication Types: Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

Substances mentioned in the article: GAP-43 Protein; Membrane Glycoproteins; Nerve Tissue Proteins; Ibotenic Acid; Norepinephrine;

Mesh terms: Afferent Pathways/physiology; Animals; Denervation; GAP-43 Protein; Ibotenic Acid/toxicity; Locus Coeruleus/injuries; Male; Membrane Glycoproteins/analysis; Nerve Regeneration/physiology; Nerve Tissue Proteins/analysis; Neuronal Plasticity; Norepinephrine/deficiency; Rats/physiology; Rats, Inbred Strains; Somatosensory Cortex/chemistry; Thalamus/drug effects; Vibrissae/physiology;

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