Morphological characteristics of layer II projection neurons in the rat medial entorhinal cortex

Hippocampus. 1997;7(5):571-83. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-1063(1997)7:5<571::AID-HIPO12>3.0.CO;2-Y.


The entorhinal cortex receives inputs from a variety of neocortical regions. Neurons in layer II of the entorhinal cortex originate one component of the perforant path which conveys this information to the dentate gyrus and hippocampus. The current study extends our previous work on the electro-responsive properties of layer II neurons of the medial entorhinal cortex in which we distinguished two categories of layer II neurons based on their electrophysiological attributes (Alonso and Klink [1993] J Neurophysiol 70: 128-143). Here we report on the morphological features of layer II projection neurons, as revealed by in vitro intracellular injection of biocytin. We now report that the two electrophysiologically distinct types of neurons correspond to morphologically distinct types of cells. All neurons (65% of the total cells recorded) that developed sustained, subthreshold, sinusoidal membrane potential oscillations were found to have a stellate appearance. Neurons that did not exhibit oscillatory behavior had either a pyramidal-like (32%) or a horizontal cell morphology (3%). Stellate cells had multiple, thick, primary dendrites. Their widely diverging upper dendritic domain expanded mediolaterally over a distance of around 500 microns close to the pial surface. This mediolateral extent was more than double that of the pyramidal-like cells. Dendrites of stellate cells demonstrated long dendritic appendages, and their dendritic spines had a more complex morphology than those of nonstellates. The stellate cell axons emerged from a primary dendrite and were more than double the thickness (approximately 1.4 microns) of the axons of nonstellate cells. Recurrent axonal collaterization appeared more extensive in axons arising from stellate cells than from pyramidal-like cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Electrophysiology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / ultrastructure*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • biocytin
  • Lysine