Reversible reduction in dendritic spines in CA1 of rat and ground squirrel subjected to hypothermia-normothermia in vivo: A three-dimensional electron microscope study
A study was made at electron microscope level of changes in the three-dimensional (3-D) morphology of dendritic spines and postsynaptic densities (PSDs) in CA1 of the hippocampus in ground squirrels, taken either at low temperature during hibernation (brain temperature 2-4 degrees C), or after warming and recovery to the normothermic state (34 degrees C). In addition, the morphology of PSDs and spines was measured in a non-hibernating mammal, rat, subjected to cooling at 2 degrees C at which time core rectal temperature was 15 degrees C, and then after warming to normothermic conditions. Significant differences were found in the proportion of thin and stubby spines, and shaft synapses in CA1 for rats and ground squirrels for normothermia compared with cooling or hibernation. Hypothermia induced a decrease in the proportion of thin spines, and an increase in stubby and shaft spines, but no change in the proportion of mushroom spines. The changes in redistribution of these three categories of spines in ground squirrel are more prominent than in rat. There were no significant differences in synapse density determined for ground squirrels or rats at normal compared with low temperature. Measurement of spine and PSD volume (for mushroom and thin spines) also showed no significant differences between the two functional states in either rats or ground squirrels, nor were there any differences in distances between neighboring synapses. Spinules on dendritic shafts were notable qualitatively during hibernation, but absent in normothermia. These data show that hypothermia results in morphological changes which are essentially similar in both a hibernating and a non-hibernating animal.
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