To better understand developing orofacial nociceptive circuits and to provide a baseline for evaluating injury-induced plasticity, the ultrastructure of the superficial laminae in the rat medullary dorsal horn was examined at birth and at postnatal days 1, 4, 17, and 90. Quantitative features of terminals and synapses were studied with stereological methods. In laminae I and II: 1) Axon terminal density increased significantly from birth to day 4 and again from day 4 to day 90. 2) The density of degenerating profiles increased significantly from birth to day i and from birth to day 4 and then decreased from day 4 to day 90.3) Degenerating profiles were most dense on day i and declined steadily thereafter; by day 90, such profiles were rare. 4) Cavitation was by far the most common form of degeneration seen at early postnatal ages. 5) Growth cone-like profiles were most dense at birth and declined steadily during the first 2 postnatal weeks; by day 90, such profiles were absent. 6) Terminals with fiat synaptic vesicles were rarely seen before day 90, when they accounted for 7% of the terminal population. 7) The density of synapses increased continuously from birth until day 90. These data suggest that, as in the spinal cord, medullary dorsal horn circuits are very immature at birth. Adult-like quantitative features are not attained until after day 17. Moreover, whereas degenerating profiles are prevalent during early postnatal development, and they have features that resemble naturally occurring degeneration, the total numbers of terminals and synapses continue to increase dramatically and gradually during a protracted postnatal period (to postnatal day 17).
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Journal of Comparative Neurology|
|State||Published - Jul 7 1997|
- Growth cone