Mossy fibers are the primary source of afferent input to ectopic granule cells that are born after pilocarpine-induced seizures

Exp Neurol. 2005 Dec;196(2):316-31. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2005.08.007.


Granule cell (GC) neurogenesis increases following seizures, and some newborn GCs develop in abnormal locations within the hilus. These ectopic GCs (EGCs) display robust spontaneous and evoked excitatory activity. However, the pattern of afferent input they receive has not been fully defined. This study used electron microscopic immunolabeling to quantitatively evaluate mossy fiber (MF) input to EGCs since MFs densely innervate the hilus normally and undergo sprouting in many animal models of epilepsy. EGC dendrites were examined in tissue from epileptic rats that had initially been treated with pilocarpine to induce status epilepticus and subsequently had spontaneous seizures. MF terminals were labeled with a zinc transporter-3 antibody, and calbindin immunoreactivity was used to label hilar EGCs and GC layer GCs. The pattern of input provided by sprouted MF terminals to EGC dendrites was then compared to the pattern of MF input to GC dendrites in the inner molecular layer (IML), where most sprouted fibers are thought to project. Analysis of EGC dendrites demonstrated that MF terminals represented their predominant source of afferent input: they comprised 63% of all terminals and, on average, occupied 40% and 29% of the dendritic surface in the dorsal and ventral dentate gyrus, respectively, forming frequent synapses. These measures of connectivity were significantly greater than comparable values for MF innervation of GC dendrites located in the IML of the same tissue sections. Thus, EGCs develop a pattern of synaptic connections that could help explain their previously identified predisposition to discharge in epileptiform bursts and suggest that they play an important role in the generation of seizure activity in the dentate gyrus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / metabolism
  • Afferent Pathways / pathology*
  • Afferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Calbindins
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron / methods
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / metabolism
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / pathology*
  • Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Pilocarpine*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism
  • Seizures / chemically induced
  • Seizures / pathology*
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / pathology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Calbindins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • zinc transporter 3, rat
  • Pilocarpine