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Postnatal development of cat hind limb motoneurons. III: Changes in size of motoneurons supplying the triceps surae muscle.

  • Ulfhake, B
  • Cullheim, S
Published Article
The Journal of comparative neurology
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1988
PMID: 3209749


The postnatal changes of neuronal dimensions were studied in cat triceps surae motoneurons intracellularly labeled with horseradish peroxidase. Systematic correlations were observed in the analysis of single dendrites at each studied stage, from birth to 44-46 days post natum (d.p.n.) age, between size parameters intrinsic to the dendrites as the diameter of a 1st-order dendrite, the combined dendritic length, the dendritic membrane area, and the degree of branching. Some variability among samples was evident in each studied age group. The correlations were, however, sufficiently close to permit indirect estimations of both combined dendritic length and dendritic membrane area for larger samples of neurons from data on dendritic stem caliber. The total postnatal increase in dendritic membrane area was, on the average, 400%, i.e., from close to 100 X 10(3) microns2 to about 500 X 10(3) microns2. The corresponding increase in soma area amounted to 100%. Analysis revealed that there was a time lag between the increase in somatic and dendritic size. Thus, adult somatic dimensions were attained at age 44-46 d.p.n.; however, at this stage, the mean total dendritic membrane area was only about half of the adult value. The postnatal increase in size appeared to vary among neurons, yielding a wider neuronal size spectrum in the adult cat than that observed in kittens. The measured increase in size corresponded to a calculated average addition of dendritic membrane area of 3700 microns2/day from birth to 22-24 d.p.n. and from that stage to 44-46 d.p.n. of 2700 microns2 per day. Likewise, the increase in combined dendritic length could initially be as large as 1 mm/day down to 0.4 mm/day between 22-24 and 44-46 d.p.n., with a mean growth during the first 44-46 d.p.n. of 0.5 to 0.6 mm/day. The ratios of daughters to parent branch diameters (sigmadd1.5: dp1.5) and the dendritic trunk parameter (sigma d1.5) recorded along the proximodistal dendritic path distance revealed transient changes that might impact on the electrotonic properties of the dendrites during postnatal development. Computations from the measured changes in dendritic branch lengths and calibers indicated that if membrane and internal resistivity remain unaltered during postnatal development, the dendritic domain is electrotonically more compact in the newborn kitten than in the adult cat.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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