Differential dynamics of cortical neuron dendritic trees revealed by long-term in vivo imaging in neonates

Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 6;9(1):3106. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05563-0.


Proper neuronal circuit function relies on precise dendritic projection, which is established through activity-dependent refinement during early postnatal development. Here we revealed dynamics of dendritic refinement in the mammalian brain by conducting long-term imaging of the neonatal mouse barrel cortex. By "retrospective" analyses, we identified "prospective" barrel-edge spiny stellate (SS) neurons in early neonates, which had an apical dendrite and primitive basal dendrites (BDs). These neurons retracted the apical dendrite gradually and established strong BD orientation bias through continuous "dendritic tree" turnover. A greater chance of survival was given to BD trees emerged in the barrel-center side, where thalamocortical axons (TCAs) cluster. When the spatial bias of TCA inputs to SS neurons was lost, BD tree turnover was suppressed, and most BD trees became stable and elaborated mildly. Thus, barrel-edge SS neurons could establish the characteristic BD projection pattern through differential dynamics of dendritic trees induced by spatially biased inputs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Axons / physiology
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology


  • Calcium