Mossy fiber sprouting into the inner molecular layer of the dentate gyrus is an important neuroplastic change found in animal models of temporal lobe epilepsy and in humans with this type of epilepsy. Recently, we reported in the perforant path stimulation model another neuroplastic change for dentate granule cells following seizures: hilar basal dendrites (HBDs). The present study determined whether status epilepticus-induced HBDs on dentate granule cells occur in the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy and whether these dendrites are targeted by mossy fibers. Retrograde transport of biocytin following its ejection into stratum lucidum of CA3 was used to label granule cells for both light and electron microscopy. Granule cells with a heterogeneous morphology, including recurrent basal dendrites, and locations outside the granule cell layer were observed in control preparations. Preparations from both pilocarpine and kainate models of temporal lobe epilepsy also showed granule cells with HBDs. These dendrites branched and extended into the hilus of the dentate gyrus and were shown to be present on 5% of the granule cells in pilocarpine-treated rats with status epilepticus, whereas control rats had virtually none. Electron microscopy was used to determine whether HBDs were postsynaptic to axon terminals in the hilus, a site where mossy fiber collaterals are prevalent. Labeled granule cell axon terminals were found to form asymmetric synapses with labeled HBDs. Also, unlabeled, large mossy fiber boutons were presynaptic to HBDs of granule cells. These results indicate that HBDs are present in the pilocarpine model of temporal lobe epilepsy, confirm the presence of HBDs in the kainate model, and show that HBDs are postsynaptic to mossy fibers. These new mossy fiber synapses with HBDs may contribute to additional recurrent excitatory circuitry for granule cells.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.