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Immunohistochemical examination of serotonin fibers in the developing visual cortex of rats with methylazoxymethanol-induced microcephaly


, : Immunohistochemical examination of serotonin fibers in the developing visual cortex of rats with methylazoxymethanol-induced microcephaly. Environmental Medicine (Nagoya) 37(2): 147-150

Serotonin (5HT) neurons in the dorsal and median raphe nuclei in rats send their fibers to various areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus. Treatment of pregnant rats with methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM), an anti-mitotic agent, on day 15 of gestation results in the formation of severe microcephaly in offspring. This study immunohistochemically examined a possible developmental alteration in 5HT fibers in the occipital cortex of microcephalic rats (MAM-rats) at 1, 3 and 5 days of age. The 5HT fibers were observed in the developing occipital cortex of both the control and MAM-rats even at postnatal day 1, and the number of 5HT fibers rapidly increased as the offspring matured. In the MAM-rats, however, 5HT fibers were much more sparsely distributed than in controls. At postnatal day 5 of the controls, a laminar-arranged, heavy aggregation of 5HT nerve terminals was observed parallel to the cortical surface among a narrow area between the newly formed layer V and the above cortical plate. However, the MAM-rats showed no aggregation of 5HT nerve terminals at this age. The observed developmental abnormalities of 5HT fibers and terminals in the cerebral cortex during these first postnatal days give further morphological support to the hypothesis that the secondary degeneration of 5HT neurons is target-dependent.

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