Laminar development of the mouse barrel cortex: effects of neurotoxins against monoamines

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Jul;110(2):183-95. doi: 10.1007/BF00228550.


The rodent somatosensory cortex is characterized by a unique cellular organization in the field of representation of the whiskers, called the barrelfield, which develops in layer IV during the 1st postnatal week in parallel with the establishment of the thalamo-cortical connections. This area is transiently densely innervated by serotonergic afferents during this period. Serotonin depletion delays the formation of barrels in the rat somatosensory cortex. However, no information is available to date on the time-course of the laminar differentiation of the cortex after monoaminergic depletion and the relative contribution of different monoaminergic inputs to this process. To address these issues, newborn mice were treated with selective neurotoxins (6-hydroxydopamine or 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine) at birth to destroy the catecholaminergic and monoaminergic cortical innervation, respectively. The parietal cortex of these animals was examined in Nissl-stained coronal sections prepared on different days of postnatal development (between P2 and P30). Compared with the controls, delayed growth and differentiation of the cortical layers II-IV were observed in the treated animals, most prominently between P2 and P16. From the 3rd postnatal week, no cytoarchitectonic difference could be detected. Although neonatal depletion of the cortical monoaminergic innervation does not affect the laminar organization of the adult mouse barrelfield, it significantly delays the time-course of development of several cortical layers. This delay generates a mismatch in the degree of maturation between cortical neurons and their afferents at a time when neuronal interactions are critical for the establishment of local circuitry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / growth & development
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Catecholamines / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Catecholamines / pharmacology
  • Catecholamines / physiology*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / growth & development*


  • Catecholamines
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Serotonin