Author(s): Hendrickson ML, Ling C, Kalil RE. Degeneration of axotomized projection neurons in the rat dLGN: temporal progression of events and their mitigation by a single administration of FGF2. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e46918. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046918. Epub 2012 Nov 5. PMID 23144793
Journal: Plo S One, Volume 7, Issue 11, 2012
Removal of visual cortex in the rat axotomizes projection neurons in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), leading to cytological and structural changes and apoptosis. Biotinylated dextran amine was injected into the visual cortex to label dLGN projection neurons retrogradely prior to removing the cortex in order to quantify the changes in the dendritic morphology of these neurons that precede cell death. At 12 hours after axotomy we observed a loss of appendages and the formation of varicosities in the dendrites of projection neurons. During the next 7 days, the total number of dendrites and the cross-sectional areas of the dendritic arbors of projection neurons declined to about 40% and 20% of normal, respectively. The response of dLGN projection neurons to axotomy was asynchronous, but the sequence of structural changes in individual neurons was similar; namely, disruption of dendrites began within hours followed by cell soma atrophy and nuclear condensation that commenced after the loss of secondary dendrites had occurred. However, a single administration of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2), which mitigates injury-induced neuronal cell death in the dLGN when given at the time of axotomy, markedly reduced the dendritic degeneration of projection neurons. At 3 and 7 days after axotomy the number of surviving dendrites of dLGN projection neurons in FGF-2 treated rats was approximately 50% greater than in untreated rats, and the cross-sectional areas of dendritic arbors were approximately 60% and 50% larger. Caspase-3 activity in axotomized dLGN projection neurons was determined by immunostaining for fractin (fractin-IR), an actin cleavage product produced exclusively by activated caspase-3. Fractin-IR was seen in some dLGN projection neurons at 36 hours survival, and it increased slightly by 3 days. A marked increase in reactivity was seen by 7 days, with the entire dLGN filled with dense fractin-IR in neuronal cell somas and dendrites.