Development of acetylcholinesterase activity in the lateral geniculate nucleus

J Comp Neurol. 1988 Sep 8;275(2):241-53. doi: 10.1002/cne.902750206.


The pattern of acetylcholinesterase activity in the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) undergoes a number of striking changes during postnatal development. The adult tree shrew LGN is made up of six cellular layers divided by relatively cell-free interlaminar zones. At birth, however, the nucleus appears unlaminated when processed with conventional Nissl-staining techniques. The cellular lamination appears during the first postnatal week. The eyes open much later, typically at the end of the third week after birth. In the adult tree shrew, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity is found throughout the nucleus (both within and between the six cellular layers). In most sections examined, reaction product is slightly more intense in the lateral cell layers (4, 5, and 6). This is in sharp contrast to the pattern at birth (postnatal day zero, or P0). The detectable AChE activity at this age is apparently found in inchoate layers 1-2 and 4-5. Within these pairs, areas innervated by the ipsilateral eye (i.e., incipient layers 1 and 5) appear to contain more reaction product. From P0 to P4, the density of AChE activity increases in layers 1-2 and 4-5 and becomes detectable in the barely evident layers 3 and (usually) 6 at this age. By the middle of the second postnatal week, after laminae are clearly apparent with a Nissl stain, AChE activity has increased and is mainly associated with each cellular layer in the nucleus. During the third week after birth this pattern undergoes a radical shift. The most intense AChE activity is now in the interlaminar zones. Finally, as the adult pattern emerges, AChE activity increases in the cellular layers and all areas of the nucleus exhibit relatively high levels of AChE activity. Superimposed on this changing laminar pattern of AChE activity are changes related to the retinotopic map within the nucleus. Portions of the LGN representing central vision develop their characteristic pattern of activity several days ahead of the regions representing more peripheral visual field locations. AChE activity is also found transiently in the optic tract near the LGN during the first 3 postnatal weeks. Two (possibly three) groups of AChE-carrying fibers can be traced from the optic chiasm to their apparent sites of termination (or origin) in the parabigeminal nucleus, ventral lateral geniculate nucleus, and dorsal LGN. The activity present in the optic tract disappears shortly after eye opening.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism*
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Geniculate Bodies / enzymology
  • Geniculate Bodies / growth & development*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Optic Chiasm / enzymology
  • Optic Chiasm / growth & development
  • Tupaia / growth & development*
  • Tupaiidae / growth & development*


  • Acetylcholinesterase