Golgi analyses of dendritic organization among denervated olfactory bulb granule cells

J Comp Neurol. 1987 Mar 15;257(3):442-52. doi: 10.1002/cne.902570311.


In the vertebrate olfactory bulb, the primary projection neurons, mitral and tufted cells, have reciprocal dendrodendritic synapses with respective subpopulations of anaxonic interneurons called granule cells. In the neurological murine mutant Purkinje Cell Degeneration (PCD), all mitral cells are lost during early adulthood. As a consequence, a subpopulation of granule cells is deprived of both afferent input and efferent targets. The effect of this event on the morphology and sublaminar distribution of granule cells was studied with light microscopic Golgi procedures in affected homozygous recessive PCD mutants and normal heterozygous littermate controls. In the control mice, a minimum of three subpopulations were identified predominantly on the basis of the topology of apical dendrites and their spinous processes within the external plexiform layer (EPL) of the olfactory bulb: type I had dendrites extending across the full width of the EPL and a homogeneous distribution of spines; type II had dendritic arbors confined to the deeper EPL; type III had apical dendrites that arborized extensively within the superficial EPL with no arbors or spines present in the deeper EPL. Prior studies suggest that type II cells form connections with mitral cells; type III cells form connections with tufted cells; and type I cells may integrate information from both populations of projection neurons. In the mutant PCD mice, the classification of subpopulations of granule cells proved difficult due to a compression of dendritic arbors within the EPL. Dendritic processes followed a more horizontal tangent relative to the radial orientation seen in control mice. The length of dendritic branches was reduced by approximately 20% with a corresponding decrease in the number of spines. The density of spines (#/1 micron of dendrite) was constant in both controls and mutants at approximately 0.21. Truncation of the dendrites in the PCD mutants appeared to occur at terminal portions because the number of dendritic bifurcations was equal in both groups of mice. The data are discussed in terms of subpopulations of granule cells in the mouse olfactory bulb, the sublaminar organization of olfactory bulb circuits, and the capacity for survival and plasticity in the reciprocal dendrodendritic circuits mediated by the granule cell spines.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites*
  • Female
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants
  • Nerve Degeneration*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology*
  • Staining and Labeling