The organization of the embryonic and early postnatal murine hippocampus. II. Development of entorhinal, commissural, and septal connections studied with the lipophilic tracer DiI

J Comp Neurol. 1994 Jun 1;344(1):101-20. doi: 10.1002/cne.903440108.


We have analyzed the early development of the main hippocampal afferents in the mouse. Following injections of the lipophilic tracer 1-1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI) in the entorhinal cortex, entorhinal axons were observed for the first time in the hippocampus at E15, in the white matter. At E17, entorhinal fibers arborized within the stratum lacunosum-moleculare. At subsequent stages entorhinal axons formed dense networks that were restricted to their appropriate termination zone in the lacunosum-moleculare. The first axons invading the fascia dentata were noticed at E19, their density increasing at later stages. These axons were mainly present in the outer molecular layer. This onset of entorhinohippocampal projections was corroborated by retrograde labeling data after injections in the hippocampus. Commissural fibers first entered the contralateral hippocampus at E18, their number increasing at the following stages. Commissural axons arborized within the stratum oriens and radiatum in the hippocampus proper. In the fascia dentata, the earliest commissural fibers were seen at P2, terminating in the inner zone of the molecular layer and in the hilus. We conclude that developing entorhinal and commissural axons show a high degree of laminar specificity from the earliest stages of formation, which is compatible with the notion that distinct subsets of early maturing neurons populating the hippocampal plexiform layers may attract particular fiber systems. Hippocamposeptal fibers develop at E15, before the first septal fibers can be detected in the hippocampus. These early hippocamposeptal fibers originated from nonpyramidal neurons and terminated in the medial septal area, which is the main source of septal afferents to the hippocampus. In contrast, septohippocampal fibers were not seen in the hippocampus until E17. At perinatal stages, the hippocamposeptal connection reshapes, sending axons to the dorsolateral septal area as the innervation of the medial septum becomes less conspicuous. This sequence suggests that hippocampal neurons pioneer the formation of septohippocampal connections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Carbocyanines
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / embryology
  • Hippocampus / growth & development*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / embryology
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Carbocyanines
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • 3,3'-dioctadecylindocarbocyanine