Development of motoneurons and primary sensory afferents in the thoracic and lumbar spinal cord of the South American opossum Monodelphis domestica
Knott, GW and Kitchener, PD and Saunders, NR, Development of motoneurons and primary sensory afferents in the thoracic and lumbar spinal cord of the South American opossum Monodelphis domestica, The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 414, (4) pp. 423-436. ISSN 0021-9967 (1999) [Refereed Article]
The postnatal development of the primary sensory afferent projection to the thoracic (T4) and lumbar (L4) spinal cord of the marsupial species Monodelphis domestica was studied by using anterograde and retrograde neuronal tracers. Large numbers of primary afferents and motoneurons were labelled by application of the carbocyanine dye DiI into individual dorsal root ganglia (DRG) afferents in short-term organ cultures. Dorsal root axons had entered the cord at birth, but most primary afferent innervation of the grey matter and the establishment of cytoarchitectural lamination occurs postnatally. In addition to ipsilateral projections, some primary afferents that projected to the dorsal horn extended across the midline into the equivalent contralateral regions of the grey matter. Similarly, motoneuron dendrites occasionally extended across midline and into the contralateral grey matter. The first fibres innervating the spinal cord project to the ventral horn and formed increasingly complex terminal arbours in the motor columns between P1 and P7. After P5 many afferents were seen projecting to the dorsal horn, with the superficial dorsal horn being the last region of the spinal grey to be innervated. Histochemical labelling with the lectin Griffonia simplicifolia indicated that C fibre primary afferents had arborised in the superficial dorsal horn by P14. The sequence of primary afferent innervation is thus similar to that described in the rat, but this sequence occurs over a period of several weeks in Monodelphis, compared with several days in the rat.