After pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus, many granule cells born into the postseizure environment migrate aberrantly into the dentate hilus. Hilar ectopic granule cells (HEGCs) are hyperexcitable and may therefore increase circuit excitability. This study determined the distribution of their axons and dendrites. HEGCs and normotopic granule cells were filled with biocytin during whole-cell patch clamp recording in hippocampal slices from pilocarpine-treated rats. The apical dendrite of 86% of the biocytin-labeled HEGCs extended to the outer edge of the dentate molecular layer. The total length and branching of HEGC apical dendrites that penetrated the molecular layer were significantly reduced compared with apical dendrites of normotopic granule cells. HEGCs were much more likely to have a hilar basal dendrite than normotopic granule cells. They were about as likely as normotopic granule cells to project to CA3 pyramidal cells within the slice, but were much more likely to send at least one recurrent mossy fiber into the molecular layer. HEGCs with burst capability had less well-branched apical dendrites than nonbursting HEGCs, their dendrites were more likely to be confined to the hilus, and some exhibited dendritic features similar to those of immature granule cells. HEGCs thus have many paths along which to receive synchronized activity from normotopic granule cells and to transmit their own hyperactivity to both normotopic granule cells and CA3 pyramidal cells. They may therefore contribute to the highly interconnected granule cell hubs that have been proposed as crucial to development of a hyperexcitable, potentially seizure-prone circuit.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.