A coculture system consisting of input axons from entorhinal cortex explants and target hippocampal pyramidal neurons was used to demonstrate that glutamate, released spontaneously from afferent axons, can influence both dendritic geometry of target neurons and formation of presumptive synaptic sites. Dendritic outgrowth was reduced in hippocampal neurons growing on entorhinal axons when compared with neurons growing off the axons. Presumptive presynaptic sites were observed in association with hippocampal neuron dendrites and somas. HPLC analysis showed that glutamate was released from the explants in an activity-and Ca2+-dependent manner. The general glutamate receptor antagonist d-glutamylglycine significantly increased dendritic outgrowth in pyramidal neurons associated with entorhinal axons and reduced presumptive presynaptic sites. Tetrodotoxin and reduction of extracellular Ca2+ also promoted dendritic outgrowth and reduced the formation of presumptive synaptic sites. The results suggest that the neurotransmitter glutamate may play important roles in the development of hippocampal circuitry.
ASJC Scopus subject areas