Author(s): Agarwala S, Kalil RE. Axotomy-induced neuronal death and reactive astrogliosis in the lateral geniculate nucleus following a lesion of the visual cortex in the rat. J Comp Neurol. 1998 Mar 9;392(2):252-63. PMID 9512272
Journal: The Journal Of Comparative Neurology, Volume 392, Issue 2, Mar 1998
Following a unilateral lesion of the visual cortex (cortical areas 17, 18, and 18a) in adult rats, neurons in the ipsilateral dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) are axotomized, which leads to their atrophy and death. The time course of this neuronal degeneration was studied quantitatively, and the astroglial response was examined with glial fibrillary acidic protein immunohistochemistry. More than 95% of the neurons in the ipsilateral LGN survive during the first 3 days following a lesion of the visual cortex. However, in the next 4 days, massive neuronal death ensues, reducing the number of surviving neurons to approximately 33% of normal by the end of the first postoperative week. Between 2 weeks and 24 weeks postoperatively, the number of neurons present in the LGN declines very gradually from 34% to 17% of normal. Three days after a lesion of the visual cortex, the mean cross-sectional areas of ipsilateral LGN neurons are 13% smaller than normal (87%). By 1 week after the operation, surviving LGN neurons have atrophied to 66% of their normal area. Subsequently, the size of surviving neurons declines slowly to approximately 50% of normal at 24 weeks after the cortical lesion. Astrocytes in the ipsilateral LGN also react to cortical damage. At 1 day after a lesion of the visual cortex, glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity in the LGN is almost undetectable, but a distinct increase in immunoreactivity is seen at 3 days. Immunoreactivity peaks between 1 week and 2 weeks postoperatively and, thereafter, remains intense for at least 24 weeks. Thus, following a lesion of the visual cortex, the somata of neurons in the LGN remain essentially normal morphologically for about 3 days before the onset of rapid atrophy and death. Moreover, most of the neural cell death that occurs in the LGN after axotomy takes place in the last half of the first postoperative week.