The dendritic morphology of pyramidal neurons in the rat hippocampal CA3 area. I. Cell types

Jonathan M. Fitch, Janice M. Juraska, Lawrence W. Washington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pyramidal neurons from the hippocampal CA3 area of hooded rats were qualitatively and quantitatively described from Golgi-stained tissue. The most numerous of the pyramidal neurons, those with a single apical shaft, fell into two categories. One category, termed short-shaft pyramidal neurons, is characterized by short apical shafts, a large number of thorny excrescences, and densely branched apical and basilar trees. The second category, long-shaft pyramidal neurons, is characterized by a long apical shaft, a small number of thorny excrescences and relatively less dendritic branching in both the apical and basilar trees. The somata of short-shaft pyramidal neurons tend to be located higher in stratum pyramidale than the somata of long-shaft neurons. Quantitative measurements, which included both analysis of dendritic branching and the distribution of dendritic material sampled at 10% intervals from the cell body, confirmed the qualitative observation that short-shaft neurons had more total dendritic length than long-shaft neurons. The difference in the total dendritic length observed between long- and short-shaft pyramidal neurons could be an indication that each type receives a different number of synapses per neuron. The less commonly observed variants of pyramidal neurons were briefly described but not quantified. This study demonstrates that CA3 pyramidal neurons are not a homogenous group but that their heterogeneous characteristics fall into two major categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 6 1989


  • CA3
  • Dendrite
  • Golgi stain
  • Hippocampus
  • Pyramidal neuron
  • Thorny excrescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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