Dendrodendritic and dendrosomatic contacts between oculomotor and trochlear motoneurons of the frog, Rana esculenta

Tímea Bacskai, Gabor Veress, Gabor Halasi, Adam Deak, Eva Racz, György Szekely, Clara Matesz

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Gaze fixation requires very fast movements of the eye during body displacement. The morphological and physiological background of the very fine and continuous tuning of gaze fixation is not yet fully understood. In a previous study we have shown that the dendrites of oculomotor neurons form bundles which invade the trochlear nucleus, and vice versa, trochlear dendritic bundles invade the oculomotor nucleus. Earlier physiological observations demonstrating electrotonic coupling between dendrites of spinal motoneurons in the frog suggest a similar mechanism between the oculomotor and trochlear motoneurons. We studied a possible morphological basis of gaze fixation. The experiments were carried out on common water frogs, Rana esculenta. The trochlear and oculomotor nerves were cut, and their proximal stumps were labeled simultaneously with different retrograde fluorescent tracers. Using confocal laser scanning microscope we detected a large number of close contacts in both nuclei, the majority of them were dendrodendritic apposition. The distance between the adjacent profiles suggested close membrane appositions without intercalating glial or neuronal elements. At the ultrastructural level, the dendrodendritic and dendrosomatic contacts did not show any morphological specialization; the long membrane appositions may provide ephaptic interactions between the neighboring profiles. This electrotonic coupling between the oculomotor and trochlear nerve motoneurons may promote the co-activation of the muscles responsible for vertical eye movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-423
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 18 2008



  • Brainstem
  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • Eye movements
  • Neuronal labeling
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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