Mossy fiber (hippocampus)

Mossy Fiber (Hippocampus)

Mossy fiber (hippocampus)

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In the hippocampus, granule cells of the dentate gyrus form distinctive unmyelinated axons that project along the mossy fiber pathway to the CA3 region. The axons emerge from the basal portions of the granule cells and pass through the hilus (or polymorphic cell layer) of the dentate gyrus before entering the stratum lucidum of CA3.Granule cell synapses tend to be glutamatergic (e.g. excitatory), though recent immunohistological data has indicated thatsome synapse contain neuropeptidergic elements including opiate peptides such as dynorphin and enkephalin. Moreover, there is growing evidence for co-localization of GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmitters within mossy fiber terminals, though the functional consequence of this colocalization is unclear.

The pathway was so named by Ramon y Cajal because the axons display varicosities all along their lengths, giving them a "mossy" appearance. These mossy fibers form multiple synapses with the elaborate dendritic spines of CA3 pyramidal cells in stratum lucidum. These complex spines are known as "thorny excrescences". It has also been shown that the axons of granule cells synapse with a wide variety of inhibitory GABA interneurons in the hilar region of the dentate gyrus before continuing on to innervate pyramidal cells in the CA3 region. A single mossy fiber projection may make as many as 37 contacts with a single pyramidal cell, but innervates only about a dozen different...
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