Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 57–74 | Cite as

Morphological characterization of rat entorhinal neurons in vivo: soma-dendritic structure and axonal domains

  • K. Lingenhöhl
  • D. M. Finch


We used in vivo intracellular labeling with horseradish peroxidase in order to study the somadendritic morphology and axonal projections of rat entorhinal neurons. The cells responded to hippocampal stimulation with inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, and thus likely received direct or indirect hippocampal input. All cells (n = 24) showed extensive dendritic domains that extended in some cases for more than 1 mm. The dendrites of layer II neurons were largely restricted to layers I and II or layers I–III, while the dendrites of deeper cells could extend through all cortical layers. Computed 3D rotations showed that the basilar dendrites of deep pyramids extended roughly parallel to the cortical layering, and that they were mostly confined to the layer containing the soma and layers immediately adjacent. Total dendritic lengths averaged 9.8 mm ± 3.8 (SD), and ranged from 5 mm to more than 18 mm. Axonal processes could be visualized in 21 cells. Most of these showed axonal branching within the entorhinal cortex, sometimes extensive. Efferent axonal domains were reconstructed in detail in 3 layer II stellate cells. All 3 projected axons across the subicular complex to the dentate gyrus. One of these cells showed an extensive net-like axonal domain that also projected to several other structures, including the hippocampus proper, subicular complex, and the amygdalo-piriform transition area. The axons of layer III and IV cells projected to the angular bundle, where they continued in a rostral direction. In contrast to the layer II, III and IV cells, no efferent axonal branches leaving the entorhinal cortex could be visualized in 5 layer V neurons. The data indicate that entorhinal neurons can integrate input from a considerable volume of entorhinal cortex by virtue of their extensive dendritic domains, and provide a further basis for specifying the layers in which cells receive synaptic input. The extensive axonal branching pattern seen in most of the cells would support divergent propagation of their activity.

Key words

Hippocampal formation Neural networks HRP Tracing techniques Rat 



angular bundle; Axes of the entorhinal cortex


radial axis of the Ent in the horizontal plane


tangential axis, perpendicular to R in the horizontal plane


dorsal-ventral axis


dentate gyrus; Ent, entorhinal cortex;


distance in mm above the interaural line


hippocampal fissure


horseradish peroxidase


inhibitory postsynaptic potential




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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Lingenhöhl
    • 1
    • 3
  • D. M. Finch
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Brain Research InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurology, Reed Neurological Research CenterUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Animal PhysiologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenFederal Republic of Germany

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