Branching-Pattern Analysis of the Dendritic Arborization in the Thalamic Nuclei of the Rat Brain
We investigated the dendritic patterns of rapid Golgi-impregnated, highly similar multipolar neurons from two functionally different thalamic regions of the rat brain: two dorsal nuclei (the nucleus laterodorsalis thalami, pars dorsomedialis and the nucleus laterodorsalis thalami, pars ventrolateralis), and two ventral nuclei (the nucleus ventrolateralis thalami and the nucleus ventromedialis thalami). The analysis involved conventional morphometric parameters (height and size) and a new parameter derived from graph theory, the relative imbalance (RI), derived from the branching patterns of the dendrites, which permits quantitative characterization of the dendritic arborization of a neuron. On this basis, neurons can be grouped into three fundamentally different types: type A, or highly-polarized (imbalanced) neurons (RI values close to 1); type B, or medium-polarized neurons (RI values around 0.5); and type C, or balanced neurons with low polarization (RI values close to 0). The orientations of the dendritic arbor, and thus the receptive fields, of the dorsal and ventral thalamic neurons, were mutually perpendicular. The H and S values indicated that the neurons in the dorsal and ventral thalamic nuclei differed significantly. However, their RI values demonstrated that they were similar neurons of type B. Our data reveal that 1) the dendritic arbor cannot be reliably characterized purely on the basis of height and size, and 2) RI is a valuable morphometric parameter that identifies the true nature of the dendritic arborization.
KeywordsDendritic arborization Golgi impregnation morphometry rat relative imbalance thalamus
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