Ocular dominance plasticity in adult cat visual cortex after transplantation of cultured astrocytes

Nature. 1989 Nov 23;342(6248):427-30. doi: 10.1038/342427a0.


During a critical restricted period of postnatal development, the visual cortical circuitry is susceptible to modifications that are dependent on experience. If vision is restricted to only one eye during this period, the territories innervated by the deprived eye shrink considerably, whereas those innervated by the non-deprived eye expand, and the deprived eye loses the ability to influence almost all of the cells in the cortex. Thus, changes in ocular dominance are paralleled and possibly mediated by synapse elimination and axonal sprouting. Hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying ocular-dominance plasticity assume the activation of NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors and subsequent calcium influx as a trigger of synaptic modifications. In addition, plasticity relies on functional neuromodulatory afferents. On the basis of immunocytochemical studies, it was recently proposed that the presence of immature astrocytes is a prerequisite for visual cortical plasticity, and that the end of the critical period is causally linked to the maturation of astrocytes. Here we report, in support of this hypothesis, that resupplementation of the visual cortex of adult cats with astrocytes cultured from the visual cortex of newborn kittens reinduces ocular-dominance plasticity in adult animals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / physiology
  • Astrocytes / transplantation*
  • Cats
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Vision, Ocular
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / transplantation
  • Visual Perception*