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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)
    51 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 (in print/issue) - Nov 2015


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


    Dive into the research topics of 'Development of Synaptic Boutons in Layer 4 of the Barrel Field of the Rat Somatosensory Cortex: A Quantitative Analysis.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this