Nanoscale and functional heterogeneity of the hippocampal extracellular space

Cell Rep. 2023 May 30;42(5):112478. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112478. Epub 2023 May 5.


The extracellular space (ECS) and its constituents play a crucial role in brain development, plasticity, circadian rhythm, and behavior, as well as brain diseases. Yet, since this compartment has an intricate geometry and nanoscale dimensions, its detailed exploration in live tissue has remained an unmet challenge. Here, we used a combination of single-nanoparticle tracking and super-resolution microscopy approaches to map the nanoscale dimensions of the ECS across the rodent hippocampus. We report that these dimensions are heterogeneous between hippocampal areas. Notably, stratum radiatum CA1 and CA3 ECS differ in several characteristics, a difference that gets abolished after digestion of the extracellular matrix. The dynamics of extracellular immunoglobulins vary within these areas, consistent with their distinct ECS characteristics. Altogether, we demonstrate that ECS nanoscale anatomy and diffusion properties are widely heterogeneous across hippocampal areas, impacting the dynamics and distribution of extracellular molecules.

Keywords: CP: Neuroscience; brain; extracellular matrix; extracellular space; immunoglobulin; single molecule; single quantum dot imaging; super-resolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases*
  • Diffusion
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Extracellular Space*
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans