Laminar-dependent dendritic spine alterations in the motor cortex of adult rats following callosal transection and forced forelimb use

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2002 Jul;78(1):35-52. doi: 10.1006/nlme.2001.4045.


Previously, the authors found that partial denervation of the motor cortex in adult animals can enhance this region's neuronal growth response to relevant behavioral change. Rats with partial corpus callosum transections that were forced to rely on one forelimb for 18 days had increased dendritic arborization of layer V pyramidal neurons in the opposite motor cortex compared to controls. This was not found as a result of denervation alone or of forced forelimb use alone. However, it seemed possible that each independent manipulation (i.e., forced forelimb use alone and callosal transections alone) resulted in neural structural alterations that were simply not revealed in measurements of dendritic branch number and/or not inclusive of layer V dendrites. This possibility was assessed in the current study with a reexamination of the Golgi-Cox impregnated tissue generated in the previous study. Tissue was quantified from rats that received either partial transections of the rostral two-thirds of the corpus callosum (CCX) or sham operations (Sham) followed either by 18 days of forced use of one forelimb (Use) or unrestricted use of both forelimbs (Cont). Measurements of apical and basilar dendrites from pyramidal neurons of layer II/III and layer V were performed to detect spine addition resulting from either increased spine density or the addition of dendritic material. As hypothesized, significant spine addition was found following forced forelimb use alone (Sham+Use) and callosal transections alone (CCX+Cont). However, forced use primarily increased spines on layer II/III pyramidal neurons, whereas callosal transections primarily increased dendritic spines on layer V pyramidal neurons in comparison to Sham+Cont. A much more robust increase in layer V dendritic spines was found in animals with the combination of forced forelimb use and denervation (CCX+Use). In contrast to the effects of forced use alone, however, CCX+Use rats failed to show major net increases in spines on layer II/III neurons. These results indicate that while callosal denervation may greatly enhance the neuronal growth and synaptogenic response to behavioral change in layer V, it may also limit spine addition associated with forced forelimb use in layer II/III of the motor cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / cytology*
  • Basement Membrane / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological*
  • Corpus Callosum / surgery*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Rats
  • Spine / cytology*