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Keywords:

  • axonal sprouting;
  • kainic acid, neural injury;
  • neural plasticity;
  • synaptic reorganization

Abstract

Intracerebroventricular kainic acid administration in rat, a model of temporal lobe epilepsy, results in CA3 pyramidal neuron degeneration leading to deafferentation of CA1 pyramidal neurons. Denervation in CA1 shows a near-complete recovery of synaptic density over 2–3 months, but the source of axons participating in the reinnervation is not clear. This study investigated the contribution of the entorhinal cortex in this reinnervation by comparing the distribution of the entorhinal axons in the CA1 subfield between the intact hippocampus and the CA3-lesioned hippocampus at 3 months after administration of kainic acid. Entorhinal axons were visualized by anterograde tracing using injections of the biotinylated dextran amine into the entorhinal cortex. In the CA1 subfield of the intact hippocampus, entorhinal axons were conspicuous in the alveus and the stratum lacunosum moleculare. The distribution in the strata oriens, pyramidale, and radiatum was sparse and was characterized by isolated entorhinal fibers of the alvear pathway crossing these strata to the stratum lacunosum moleculare. However, after kainic acid-induced CA3 lesion, the density of entorhinal axons increased significantly in the CA1 stratum radiatum (375% of the intact hippocampus), as a large number of axons emanating from the entorhinal fiber plexus in the stratum lacunosum moleculare invaded the stratum radiatum. The stratum radiatum also exhibited wavy entorhinal axons filled with boutons and oriented parallel to the stratum pyramidale, suggesting collateral sprouting from entorhinal axons traversing the stratum radiatum. Thus, a significant aberrant sprouting of entorhinal axons occurs into the CA1 stratum radiatum after CA3 lesion. The sprouted fibers appear to come from both entorhinal fiber plexus in the stratum lacunosum moleculare (translaminar sprouting) and entorhinal axons traversing the stratum radiatum (intralaminar sprouting). However, the major contribution appears to be from the entorhinal plexus in the stratum lacunosum moleculare. This aberrant sprouting may lead to altered afferent excitatory connectivity in the CA1 subfield and contribute to the persistent CA1 hyperexcitability that occurs after the CA3 lesion. Hippocampus 2002;12:534–542. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.