PublicationsGrowth of pyramidal, but not non-pyramidal, dendrites in long-term organotypic explants of neonatal rat neocortex chronically exposed to neurotrophin-3
The present study was undertaken to determine the effects of neurotrophin-3 (NT3) and spontaneous bioelectric activity (SBA) on dendritic elongation and branching in long-term isolated organotypic explants of rat neocortex. Viral vector-directed expression of NT3 was used as an effective means to ensure a continuous, local production of the neurotrophic factor. Quantitative light microscopic measurement of dendritic branching patterns was carried out on Golgi-stained materials. Explants were exposed to an adenoviral vector encoding the genetic sequence for neurotrophin-3 (Ad-NT3), or to exogenous additions of the neuropeptide NT3. In order to test for activity-dependent growth effects under control and experimental conditions, explants were exposed to glutamatergic blockade using a cocktail of APV and DNQX. Both Ad-NT3 and NT3 peptide potently promoted apical and basal dendritic growth (elongation and branching) in pyramidal neurons. This growth was observed to be significant in layers II-IV and V. These growth effects were also not activity dependent, inasmuch as they were elicited from explants in which spontaneous bioelectric activity had been suppressed. Non-pyramidal neurons, throughout the neocortical slice, showed no significant dendritic responses to the prolonged presence of NT3. These findings show that pyramidal dendritic growth in long-term neocortical explants responds to at least one neurotrophic growth factor, NT3, and is independent of intrinsic bioelectric activity. The use of viral vectors in delivering a continuous high level of neurotrophic factor within developing neural tissues demonstrates its potential application to in vivo tissues during development, or in the stimulation of neuritogenesis and neuroregeneration following injuries.