Spatial patterns and cell surface clusters in perineuronal nets

Brain Res. 2016 Oct 1;1648(Pt A):214-223. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.07.020. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Perineuronal nets (PNN) ensheath GABAergic and glutamatergic synapses on neuronal cell surface in the central nervous system (CNS), have neuroprotective effect in animal models of Alzheimer disease and regulate synaptic plasticity during development and regeneration. Crucial insights were obtained recently concerning molecular composition and physiological importance of PNN but the microstructure of the network remains largely unstudied. Here we used histochemistry, fluorescent microscopy and quantitative image analysis to study the PNN structure in adult mouse and rat neurons from layers IV and VI of the somatosensory cortex. Vast majority of meshes have quadrangle, pentagon or hexagon shape with mean mesh area of 1.29µm(2) in mouse and 1.44µm(2) in rat neurons. We demonstrate two distinct patterns of chondroitin sulfate distribution within a single mesh - with uniform (nonpolar) and node-enriched (polar) distribution of the Wisteria floribunda agglutinin-positive signal. Vertices of the node-enriched pattern match better with local maxima of chondroitin sulfate density as compared to the uniform pattern. PNN is organized into clusters of meshes with distinct morphologies on the neuronal cell surface. Our findings suggest the role for the PNN microstructure in the synaptic transduction and plasticity.

Keywords: Cell surface compartments; Chondroitinsulfate proteoglycans; Extracellular matrix; Perineuronal nets; Somatosensory cortex; Synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nerve Net / cytology*
  • Nerve Net / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Plant Lectins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, N-Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / metabolism


  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans
  • Plant Lectins
  • Receptors, N-Acetylglucosamine
  • wisteria lectin