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Development of corticospinal tract fibers and their plasticity I: Quantitative analysis of the developing corticospinal tract in mice

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      Abstract

      This study was undertaken to elucidate ultrastructurally and quantitatively the development of the corticospinal tract (CST) axons of mouse at the intumescence level of the cervical cord. An anterograde HRP study showed that the CST was located at the ventral one-third of the dorsal funiculus, and a few HRP-positive fibers were noted at the medialmost part of the ipsilateral anterior funiculus. Ultrastructurally, the CST was composed of unmyelinated axons, growth cones and a few degenerating axons until postnatal day 10 (P10), then the axons in CST gradually increased in size. The number of axons constituting the right CST was calculated at different days of age. The total numbers of axons at P0, P4, P14, P21 and P56 were 2.3 × 104, 6.2 × 104, 10.4 × 104, 7.1 × 104 and 3.5 × 104, respectively. These results indicate that the number of CST axons at the cervical intumescence of mouse becomes maximum at P14, and then decreases rapidly to reach the adult level of 3.5 × 104 (at P56), about 68% of them thus being lost.

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