Semilunar granule cells (SGCs) have been proposed as a morpho-functionally distinct class of hippocampal dentate projection neurons contributing to feedback inhibition and memory processing in juvenile rats. However, the structural and physiological features that can reliably classify granule cells (GCs) from SGCs through postnatal development remain unresolved. Focusing on postnatal days 11–13, 28–42, and > 120, corresponding with human infancy, adolescence, and adulthood, we examined the somato-dendritic morphology and inhibitory regulation in SGCs and GCs to determine the cell-type specific features. Unsupervised cluster analysis confirmed that morphological features reliably distinguish SGCs from GCs irrespective of animal age. SGCs maintain higher spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current (sIPSC) frequency than GCs from infancy through adulthood. Although sIPSC frequency in SGCs was particularly enhanced during adolescence, sIPSC amplitude and cumulative charge transfer declined from infancy to adulthood and were not different between GCs and SGCs. Extrasynaptic GABA current amplitude peaked in adolescence in both cell types and was significantly greater in SGCs than in GCs only during adolescence. Although GC input resistance was higher than in SGCs during infancy and adolescence, input resistance decreased with developmental age in GCs, while it progressively increased in SGCs. Consequently, GCs’ input resistance was significantly lower than SGCs in adults. The data delineate the structural features that can reliably distinguish GCs from SGCs through development. The results reveal developmental differences in passive membrane properties and steady-state inhibition between GCs and SGCs which could confound their use in classifying the cell types.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Dentate gyrus
- Granule cell
- Semilunar granule cell