The projection of the lateral geniculate nucleus to area 17 of the rat cerebral cortex. I. General description

J Neurocytol. 1976 Feb;5(1):63-84. doi: 10.1007/BF01176183.


Lesions were made in the lateral geniculate nucleus of the rat and the consequent degeneration in area 17 of the cerebral cortex was studied by light and electron microscopy. These lesions produced prominent degeneration of axon terminals in layer IV extending into layer III and a much lesser amount in layers I and VI. The darkened degenerating axon terminals forming asymmetric synaptic junctions and were frequently surrounded by hypertrophied astrocytic processes. These terminals appeared to be disposed randomly, forming no discernible patterns. In layer IV 83% of the synapsing, degenerating terminals formed junctions with dendritic spines, 15% with dendritic shafts, and 2% with neuronal perikarya. The dendritic shafts and neuronal perikarya appeared to belong to spine-free stellate cells. The dendrites giving rise to the spines receiving degenerating axon terminals could not be identified, for most of the spines appeared as isolated profiles that could not be traced back to their dendritic shafts. One example of a degenerating axon terminal synapsing with an axon initial segment was encountered. Small, degenerating myelinated axons were prevalent in layers VI, V and IV, but were only infrequent in the supragranular layers. These results are compared with those obtained in other studies of thalamocortical projections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Geniculate Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure