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Keywords:

  • Ammon's horn;
  • dentate gyrus;
  • neurogenesis;
  • thymidine autoradiography

Abstract

This study deals with the site of origin, migration, and settling of the principal cell constituents of the rat hippocampus during the embryonic period, The results indicate that the hippocampal neuroepithelium consists of three morphogenetically discrete components—the Ammonic neuroepithelium, the primary dentate neuroepithelium, and the fimbrial glioepithelium—and that these are discrete sources of the large neurons of Ammon's horn, the smaller granular neurons of the dentate gyrus, and the glial cells of the fimbria.

The putative Ammonic neuroepithelium is marked in short-survival thymidine radiograms by a high level of proliferative activity and evidence of interkinetic nuclear migration from day E16 until day E19. On days E16 and E17 a diffuse band of unlabeled cells forms outside the Ammonic neuroepithelium. These postmitotic cells are considered to be stratum radiatum and stratum oriens neurons, which are produced in large numbers as early as day E15. A cell-dense layer, the incipient stratum pyramidale, begins to form on day E18 and spindle-shaped cells can be traced to it from the Ammonic neuroepithelium. This migratory band increases in size for several days, then declines, and finally disappears by day E22. It is inferred that this migration contains the pyramidal cells of Ammon's horn that are produced mostly on days E17 through E20.

The putative primary dentate neuroepithelium is distinguished from the Ammonic neuroepithelium during the early phases of embryonic development by its location, shape, and cellular dynamics. It is located around a ventricular indentation, the dentate notch, contains fewer mitotic cells near the lumen of the ventricle than the Ammonic neuroepithelium, and shows a different labeling pattern both in short-survival and sequential-survival thymidine radiograms. By day E18, the reduced primary dentate neuroepithelium is surrounded by an aggregate of proliferative cells; this is the secondary dentate matrix. On the subsequent days spindle-shaped cells that have retained their proliferative capacity migrate from the progressively receding secondary dentate matrix to the dentate gyrus itself. The latter, representing a tertiary germinal matrix, becomes highly active during the perinatal period.

The putative fimbrial glioepithelium is situated between the primary dentate neuroepithelium and the tip of the hippocampal rudiment. Observations in methacrylate sections and thymidine radiograms suggest that the cells of this germinal matrix, unlike typical neuroepithelial cells, do not undergo interkinetic nuclear migration. The fimbrial glioepithelium is clearly present by day E16, two days before the fimbria becomes a distinct fiber tract. As the fimbria emerges, cells of the putative glial matrix migrate into it.