The distribution of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive neuronal structures in the barrel cortex (posteromedial barrel subfield) of adult rats was analysed after unilateral removal of the vibrissal follicles of row C in neonatal rats. The hypothesis was tested whether the distribution of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive structures depends on the normal anatomical organization of the specific sensory input. After three months survival the distribution of the vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- immunoreactive structures was morphometrically evaluated. This approach revealed alterations in the contralateral posteromedial barrel subfield, where the disappearance of barrel row C and a substantial in ease in size mainly of barrel row D, but also of other rows could be detected. Increase in row D included both barrels and the interspace (septal segments between barrels in one row). As vasoactive intestinal polypeptide immunoreactivity of the barrel field was found previously to be localized in synaptic boutons involved in symmetric synapses, our present findings suggest that (i) the interspace is enriched in inhibitory vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- immunoreactive synapses as opposed to the excitatory thalamocortical input reaching the barrel hollow, (ii) the spatial distribution of the vasoactive intestinal polypeptide system in the barrel cortex is closely associated with the neuronal organization of the sensory input and reacts with a considerable plasticity to lesion-induced changes of the input, and (iii) the compensatory barrel hypertrophy in a row neighbouring the deafferented row involves an increasing number of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-immunoreactive synapses per barrel.
- Barrel cortex
- Synaptic organization
- Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide
ASJC Scopus subject areas