Disynaptic olfactory input to the hippocampus mediated by stellate cells in the entorhinal cortex

J Comp Neurol. 1990 Feb 8;292(2):163-77. doi: 10.1002/cne.902920202.


Electrophysiological and anatomical studies indicate functional relationships between the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus, mediated by the lateral olfactory tract and perforant path. Fibres from the lateral olfactory bulb terminate in the molecular layer of the lateral entorhinal cortex, which contains stellate and pyramidal cells that project to the hippocampus. Therefore this study was performed to analyze whether a trineuronal, disynaptic chain connects the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus. In adult rats, Fast Blue was unilaterally injected into the septal hippocampus to label cells of origin of the entorhinohippocampal pathway. Lesions of the ipsilateral olfactory bulb induced anterograde terminal degeneration in the entorhinal cortex of the same animals. Fast Blue labelled, and thus hippocampally projecting entorhinal neurones in fixed vibratome slices of the operated brains were injected with Lucifer Yellow. Most of these neurones were stellate layer II and pyramidal layer III cells; in addition there were some sparsely spinous multipolar cells in layers II and III and sparsely spinous horizontal cells at the layer I/II border. Injected cells were photoconverted and processed for electron microscopy. Olfactory bulb lesions resulted in electron-dense degeneration of abundant terminal boutons in the outer zone of entorhinal layer I. The relative frequency of degenerating boutons decreased towards deeper zones of the layer. In the outer zone, degenerated terminals predominantly contacted dendritic spines. These contacts could be seen on injected stellate cells but not on pyramidal cells. This study shows that the area dentata of the rat is reached by disynaptic afferent input from the olfactory bulb and thus is likely to process olfactory information. Oligosynaptic pathways might provide the hippocampus also with visual and auditory inputs; such fast transmitted polysensory information could be essential for the proposed participation of the hippocampus in attention-related mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amidines
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Rats
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Amidines
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • diamidino compound 253-50
  • diamidino yellow