Postnatal development of dye-coupling among astrocytes in rat visual cortex

Glia. 1992;6(2):127-37. doi: 10.1002/glia.440060207.


Intercellular coupling among astrocytes was studied in rat visual cortex slices from animals aged 1 week to 4 months. Cell coupling via gap junctions was determined by the dye spread of the low molecular weight dye Lucifer Yellow CH injected into electrophysiologically identified cells to adjacent cells. Coupling among glial cells was first detected at postnatal day 11 and was thereafter consistently observed until adulthood. Dye spread was observed up to 300 microns radially from the injected cell covering multiple cortical layers. Following dye injection into a single cell up to several hundred Lucifer Yellow-positive cells could be observed. Quantitative analysis revealed a similar extent of dye spread at different developmental stages including a quite constant number of dye-coupled astrocytes from the end of the second postnatal week to adulthood. Double labelling of Lucifer Yellow-filled cells with an antiserum against the glial fibrillary acidic protein confirmed the astrocytic nature of the injected and coupled cells. Comparison of the density of dye-coupled cells in a given area and the total number of astrocytes as revealed by immunocytochemical staining suggests that dye-coupling includes the entire local astrocytic population. It is concluded that coupling among astrocytes via gap junctions in rat visual cortex occurs shortly after birth and reflects one of the first steps in astroglial maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Coloring Agents / metabolism
  • Connexins
  • Electrophysiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Isoquinolines
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology


  • Coloring Agents
  • Connexins
  • Isoquinolines
  • Membrane Proteins
  • lucifer yellow