Maturation of layer V pyramidal neurons in the rat prefrontal cortex: intrinsic properties and synaptic function.

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Aging, Animals, Dendrites, Electrophysiology, Female, Histocytochemistry, Lysine, Male, Membrane-Potentials, Patch-Clamp-Techniques, Prefrontal-Cortex, Pyramidal-Cells, Rats, Rats-Sprague-Dawley, Synapses

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J Neurophysiol 2004 Mar; 91(3):1171-82.


Layer V pyramidal neurons in the rat medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) were examined with whole cell patch-clamp recording in acute slices from postnatal day 1 (P1) to P36. In the first few days after birth, layer V pyramidal neurons had low resting potentials, high-input resistance, and long membrane time constant. During the next 2 wk, the resting potential shifted by -14 mV, while the input resistance and time constant decreased by 15- and 4-fold, respectively. Between P3 and P21, the surface area of the cell body doubled, while the total lengths of apical and basal dendrites increased by 5- and 13-fold, respectively. Action potentials (APs) were observed at all aged tested. The peak amplitude of APs increased by 30 mV during the first 3 wk, while AP rise time and half-maximum duration shortened significantly. Compared with neurons at P21 or older, neurons in the first week required much smaller currents to reach their maximum firing frequencies, but the maximum frequencies were lower than those at older ages. Stimulation of layer II/III induced monosynaptic responses in neurons older than P5. Paired-pulse responses showed a short-term depression at P7, which shifted progressive to facilitation at older ages. These results demonstrate that, similar to other neurons in the brain, layer V pyramidal neurons in the PFC undergo a period of rapid development during the first 3 wk after birth. These findings suggest that the intrinsic properties of neurons and the properties of synaptic inputs develop concomitantly during early life.