Dendritic spines are sites of the vast majority of excitatory synaptic input to hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells. Estrogen has been shown to increase the density of dendritic spines on CA1 pyramidal cell dendrites in adult female rats. In parallel with increased spine density, estrogen has been shown also to increase the number of spine synapses formed with multiple synapse boutons (MSBs). These findings suggest that estrogen-induced dendritic spines form synaptic contacts with preexisting presynaptic boutons, transforming some previously single synapse boutons (SSBs) into MSBs. The goal of the current study was to determine whether estrogen-induced MSBs form multiple synapses with the same or different postsynaptic cells. To quantify same-cell vs. different-cell MSBs, we filled individual CA1 pyramidal cells with biocytin and serially reconstructed dendrites and dendritic spines of the labeled cells, as well as presynaptic boutons in synaptic contact with labeled and unlabeled (i.e., different-cell) spines. We found that the overwhelming majority of MSBs in estrogen-treated animals form synapses with more than one postsynaptic cell. Thus, in addition to increasing the density of excitatory synaptic input to individual CA1 pyramidal cells, estrogen also increases the divergence of input from individual presynaptic boutons to multiple postsynaptic CA1 pyramidal cells. These findings suggest the formation of new synaptic connections between previously unconnected hippocampal neurons.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Mar 13 2001|
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