The size and dendritic structure of HRP-labeled gamma motoneurons in the cat spinal cord

J Comp Neurol. 1991 Sep 22;311(4):531-45. doi: 10.1002/cne.903110408.


We report quantitative data obtained from 60 fully reconstructed dendritic trees belonging to eight gamma-motoneurons (gamma-MNs) and six additional gamma-MNs that were not completely reconstructed. The cells were labeled intracellularly with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). These data are compared to measurements from 79 reconstructed dendrites belonging to seven documented alpha-motoneurons (alpha-MNs), supplemented by a larger sample of alpha-MNs labeled intracellularly or by retrograde transport with HRP. As expected from earlier studies, the soma dimensions and total membrane area of gamma-MNs were smaller than those of alpha-MNs. Although gamma-MN dendrites were, on average, slightly but significantly longer than those of alpha-MNs, the former had, on average, smaller diameter stem dendrites, less membrane area, and less profuse branching, and they tended to branch closer to the soma and to terminate farther from the soma. These differences were evident even when subsets of dendrites with similar stem diameters were compared. Some of the anatomical distinctions suggest that gamma-MNs are qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from alpha-MNs, even though the distributions of many of the morphological variables examined showed no abrupt discontinuities between the two motoneuron groups.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Motor Neurons, Gamma / ultrastructure*
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase