Proechimys (Rodentia: Echimyidae) is a neotropical rodent of the Amazon region that has been successfully colonized in the laboratory and used for experimental medicine. Preliminary studies indicated that Proechimys (casiragua) rodents express an atypical resistance to developing a chronic epileptic condition in common models of temporal lobe epilepsy. Moreover, previous investigation of our laboratory described a remarkably different Proechimy's cytoarchitecture organization of the hippocampal CA2 subfield. In the present study, we investigated the intrinsic neuronal properties and morphological characteristics of the Proechimys's hippocampal pyramidal neurons of the CA1 and CA2 areas. A comparative approach was performed using neurons recorded in Wistar rats. A striking finding in Proechimys rodents was the presence of large pyramidal-like neurons throughout the stratum oriens from CA2 to CA1 area. In order to confirm such distinctive feature of the Proechimys's hippocampus, we performed Nissl staining and immunohistochemistry for neurofilament protein SM311. CA2 pyramidal neurons in the stratum pyramidale of Proechimys exhibited a significantly higher input resistance and lower time constant when compared to corresponding cell groups in the same area of the Wistar rat's. This newly identified population of pyramidal-shaped neurons in stratum oriens of Proechimys exhibited distinct electrophysiological and morphological properties. This included larger capacitance, lower input resistance, larger rheobase, long latency to first action potential and slower firing frequency. In addition, the apical dendrites of these neurons were oriented in parallel to apical dendrites of regular pyramidal neurons in stratum pyramidale. Moreover, these neurons were immunoreactive to SM311 as the majority of the neurons of the pyramidal layer. The functional role of these hippocampal neurons of the rodent Proechimys deserves further investigation.
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