Organization of visual cortical projections to fetal tectal transplants in rats: a study using multiple retrograde tracers

Delys R. Worthington, Alan R. Harvey

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Retrograde tracing techniques have been used to study the host visual cortical projection to fetal tectal tissue grafted to the midbrain of newborn host rats. To determine whether there is any topographic order in these cortical afferents, different parts of the grafts were injected with 3 different tracers: Fast blue (FB), Diamidino yellow dihydrochloride (DY), and either horseradish peroxidase (HRP) or rhodamine-labelled microspheres (Rh). The comparative visual cortical distribution of cells retrogradely labelled with the different dyes was then examined. Tectal tissue from 15-day-old pigmented rat embryos was injected via a glass micropipette onto the dorsal midbrain of anaesthetised newborn rats of the same strain. In adulthood, host rats were examined for the presence of grafts; 21 grafts were injected with retrograde tracers and the cortices of 12 of these animals were mapped to show the relative location of FB-, DY-, HRP- or Rh-labelled cells. Qualitative inspection of area 17 did not reveal consistent evidence of point-to-point visuotopic mapping in the cortico-transplant projection. However, within area 17 statistical analysis (X2 tests) revealed significant differences in most brains in the relative distribution of FB-,DY -, HRP- or Rh-labelled neurons. Areas 18 and 18a contained greater numbers of retrogradely labelled cells. In these extrastriate regions, statistical analysis also indicate significant differences in the relative distribution of neurons labelled with different tracers. These data thus provide evidence for a non-random pattern of cortical innervation of tectal grafts. Possible reasons for the absence of coherent, topographically organized cortico-transplant maps typical of the normal corticotectal projection are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 1990


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