Immunocytochemical techniques were used to analyze the distribution of the calcium-binding proteins calbindin and parvalbumin during the pre- and postnatal development of the rat somatosensory cortex. Calbindin occurs in most early differentiated neurons that form the primordial plexiform layer at embryonic day 14. This expression in transient; during the perinatal period, calbindin becomes immunologically undetectable within the structures derived from the primordial plexiform layer, i.e., the prospective layers I and VIb. Immunoreactive neurons are also absent from adult layers I and VIb. Calbindin is also detected in a second population of neurons which, from embryonic day 18 onwards, distributes diffusely within the cortical plate. Some neurons of this population show morphological traits of immaturity, while others show complete dendritic arborization. The definitive pattern of distribution of calbindin-immunoreactive neurons is achieved by postnatal day 22. Infragranular layers contain intensely-immunoreactive cells whose numerical density decreases during postnatal development, whereas in supragranular layers similar neurons are interspersed among numerous faintly-stained neurons. Parvalbumin is detected for the first time at postnatal day 6, within a small group of neurons located in cortical layer V, and extends afterwards through the whole thickness of the cerebral cortex. At this same postnatal stage, groups of immunoreactive puncta are also found in layer IV of the somatosensory cortex; these puncta increase in density progressively and, at embryonic day 13, immunoreactive cells appear also grouped at this level. At this postnatal age, parvalbumin immunostaining delineates the somatosensory map in cortical layer IV. From this stage to adulthood, the number of immunoreactive neurons increases in the whole thickness of the somatosensory cortex. Barrels in layer IV become less distinct as immunoreactive cells and processes invade the septa. Layer IV in the adult somatosensory cortex appears more densely populated by parvalbumin immunoreactive neurons and puncta than in the surrounding areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology