Development of Synaptic Boutons in Layer 4 of the Barrel Field of the Rat Somatosensory Cortex: A Quantitative Analysis.

Amandine Dufour, Astrid Rollenhagen, Kurt Saetzler, Joachim H R. Lübke

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    16 Citations (Scopus)
    6 Downloads (Pure)


    Understanding the structural and functional mechanisms underlying the development of individual brain microcircuits is critical for elucidating their computational properties. As synapses are the key structures defining a given microcircuit, it is imperative to investigate their development and precise structural features. Here, synapses in cortical layer 4 were analyzed throughout the first postnatal month using high-end electron microscopy to generate realistic quantitative 3D models. Besides their overall geometry, the size of active zones and the pools of synaptic vesicles were analyzed. At postnatal day 2 only a few shaft synapses were found, but spine synapses steadily increased with ongoing corticogenesis. From postnatal day 2 to 30 synaptic boutons significantly decreased in size whereas that of active zones remained nearly unchanged despite a reshaping. During the first 2 weeks of postnatal development, a rearrangement of synaptic vesicles from a loose distribution toward a densely packed organization close to the presynaptic density was observed, accompanied by the formation of, first a putative readily releasable pool and later a recycling and reserve pool. The quantitative 3D reconstructions of synapses will enable the comparison of structural and functional aspects of signal transduction thus leading to a better understanding of networks in the developing neocortex.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)838-854
    JournalCerebral Cortex
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


    • 3D reconstructions
    • electron microscopy
    • pool of synaptic vesicles
    • synapse geometry
    • synaptogenesis


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