In the white matter of the human cerebrum, the majority of cortico-cortical fibers are of short range, connecting neighboring cortical areas. U-fibers represent connections between neighboring areas and are located in the white matter immediately deep to the cerebral cortex. Using gyrencephalic carnivore ferrets, here we investigated the neurochemical, anatomical and developmental features of U-fibers. We demonstrate that U-fibers were derived from neighboring cortical areas in ferrets. U-fiber regions in ferrets were intensely stained with Gallyas myelin staining and Turnbull blue iron staining. We further found that U-fibers were derived from neurons in both upper and lower layers in neighboring areas of the cerebral cortex and that U-fibers were formed later than axons in the deep white matter during development. Our findings shed light on the fundamental features of U-fibers in the gyrencephalic cerebral cortex. Because genetic manipulation techniques for ferrets are now available, ferrets should be an important option for investigating the development, functions and pathophysiological changes of U-fibers.
Keywords: Cerebral cortex; Ferret; In utero electroporation; Short association fibers; Subcortical U-fibers.