An autoradiographic study of the time of origin and the pattern of granule cell migration in the dentate gyrus of the rat

J Comp Neurol. 1975 Jan 15;159(2):149-75. doi: 10.1002/cne.901590202.


The dentate gyrus of the rat contains about 600,000 granule cells. These small neurons are generated over a prolonged period from the 14th day of gestation until some time after the second postnatal week. The majority of the cells pass through their last phase of DNA synthesis in the postnatal period, and during the peak period of cell generation, between the fifth and seventh days after birth, up to 50,000 granule cells are formed each day. Contrary to earlier reports, most of the cells pass through their last mitotic division either within the stratum granulosum itself, or within the hilar region of the developing gyrus. The precursor population of cells in the hilar region must therefore constitute a pool of true neuroblasts. The origin of this pool of cells has not been definitely established but it seems probable that its cells are derived from the neuroepithelium lining the lateral ventricle adjacent to the region from which the hippocampal pyramidal cells are generated. Examination of the final location of granule cells labeled at different stages reveals three distinct morphogenetic gradients in the gyrus. The cells in the dorsal blade tend to be formed earlier than those in the ventral blade; cells in the more caudal (or temporal) portions of the gyrus are generated earlier than those in more rostral (or septal) regions; and in all regions the more superficial neurons in the stratum granulosum are formed earlier than the deeper granule cells. The bearing of some of these findings on the development and organization of the connections of the dentate gyrus is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Movement
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / embryology*
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Thymidine / metabolism
  • Tritium


  • Tritium
  • DNA
  • Thymidine