Expression of layer-specific markers in the adult neocortex of BCNU-Treated rat, a model of cortical dysplasia

R. F. Moroni, F. Inverardi, M. C. Regondi, A. Watakabe, T. Yamamori, R. Spreafico, C. Frassoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experimental model of cortical dysplasia (CD) obtained by administering carmustine (1-3-bis-chloroethyl-nitrosurea [BCNU]) in pregnant rat uterus mimics the histopathological abnormalities observed in human CD patients: altered cortical layering, and presence of heterotopia and dysmorphic/heterotopic neurons. To investigate further the cortical layering disruption and the neuronal composition of heterotopia in BCNU-exposed cortex, we analyzed the expression pattern of the transcription factors Nurr1, Er81, Ror-β, and Cux2 (respectively specific markers of layers VI, V, IV and superficial layers) in the cortical areas of BCNU-treated rats by means of in situ hybridization, and compared the findings with those observed in adult control rats. Combining in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry we also investigated the origin of dysmorphic or heterotopic neurons. The main results of the present study are (i) the analysis of cortical layer thickness revealed that the cortical thinning in the BCNU model was prevalently restricted to the superficial layers; (ii) in cortical and periventricular heterotopia, the prevalent presence of superficial layer neurons in the internal areas, and deeper layer neurons in a more peripheral region, demonstrated a rudimentary pattern of laminar organization in nodule formation; and (iii) the Er81 signal in the dysmorphic and heterotopic pyramidal neurons located in layers I/II showed that they belong to layer V. These results shed light on the disorganization of the laminar architecture of the BCNU model by providing correlations with normal cortical layering and revealing the ontogenesis of heterotopia and heterotopic/dysmorphic neurons. They also provide strong evidence of the usefulness of layer-specific markers in investigating the neuropathology of CD, thus opening up the possibility of expanding their application to human neuropathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-691
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 17 2009


  • animal model
  • cortical layers
  • in situ hybridization
  • layer-specific genes
  • neuronal migration disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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