Basal dendrite

A basal dendrite is a dendrite that emerges from the base of a pyramidal cell[1] that receives information from nearby neurons and passes it to the soma, or cell body. Due to their direct attachment to the cell body itself, basal dendrites are able to deliver strong depolarizing currents and therefore have a strong effect on action potential output in neurons.[2] The physical characteristics of basal dendrites vary based on their location and species that they are found in. For example, the basal dendrites of humans are overall found to be the most intricate and spine-dense, as compared to other species such as Macaques. It is also observed that basal dendrites of the prefrontal cortex are larger and more complex in comparison to the smaller and simpler dendrites that can be seen within the visual cortex.[3] Basal dendrites are capable of vast amounts of analog computing, which is responsible for many of the different nonlinear responses of modulating information in the neocortex.[4] Basal dendrites additionally exist in dentate granule cells for a limited time before removal via regulatory factors.[5] This removal usually occurs before the cell reaches adulthood, and is thought to be regulated through both intracellular and extracellular signals.[5] Basal dendrites are part of the more overarching dendritic tree present on pyramidal neurons. They, along with apical dendrites, make up the part of the neuron that receives most of the electrical signaling. Basal dendrites have been found to be involved mostly in neocortical information processing.[6]

Dendritic arbor

Basal dendrites are part of sampling dendritic arbors.[7] These arbors are classified as sampling because they are not completely space filling, but make more than one specific, or selective connection.[7] For example, at the CA1 pyramidal cell of a rat, there are 5 basal dendrites at the soma with 30 branch points, while space filling dendritic arbors can contain hundreds of branch points, and selective arbors can contain as few as 0 or 1.[7] Figure 2 is a representation of a CA1 pyramidal cells of a rat, showing many branch points and dendritic length.[8]

Gene expression

In reference to a study on the genes related to basal dendrites, there is proven association with the TAOK2 gene and its interaction with the NPR1-SEMA3A signaling pathway.[9] Research shows growth of basal dendrites when more of the TAOK2 gene is expressed while lower expression decreases the number of dendrites within mice. Additionally, decreasing expression of basal dendrites occurs when the Nrp1 gene is downregulated. Though, the effect can be cancelled through overexpression of TAOK2.[10]


  1. "Basilar Dendrite". Neuroscience Information Framework. August 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  2. Zhou WL, Yan P, Wuskell JP, Loew LM, Antic SD (February 2008). "Dynamics of action potential backpropagation in basal dendrites of prefrontal cortical pyramidal neurons". The European Journal of Neuroscience. 27 (4): 923–36. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06075.x. PMC 2715167. PMID 18279369.
  3. Spruson, Nelson (13 February 2008). "Pyramidal neurons: dendritic structure and synaptic integration" (PDF). Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 9: 206–221. doi:10.1038/nrn2286.
  4. Behabadi BF, Polsky A, Jadi M, Schiller J, Mel BW (19 July 2012). "Location-dependent excitatory synaptic interactions in pyramidal neuron dendrites". PLoS Computational Biology. 8 (7). e1002599. Bibcode:2012PLSCB...8E2599B. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002599. PMC 3400572. PMID 22829759.
  5. Wu YK, Fujishima K, Kengaku M (2015). "Differentiation of apical and basal dendrites in pyramidal cells and granule cells in dissociated hippocampal cultures". PLOS ONE. 10 (2). e0118482. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1018482W. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118482. PMC 4338060. PMID 25705877.
  6. Gordon, Urit; Polsky, Alon; Schiller, Jackie (6 December 2006). "Plasticity Compartments in Basal Dendrites of Neocortical Pyramidal Neurons". Journal of Neuroscience. 26 (49): 12717–12726. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3502-06.2006. PMID 17151275.
  7. Harris, Kristen M.; Spacek, Josef (2016). "Dendrite Structure" (PDF). In Stuart; et al. (eds.). Dendrites (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press via SynapseWeb.
  8. Routh, Brandy; Johnston, Daniel; Harris, Kristen; Chitwood, Raymond (October 2009). "Anatomical and Electrophysiological Comparison of CA1 Pyramidal Neurons of the Rat and Mouse". Journal of Neurophysiology. 102 (4): 2288–2302. doi:10.1152/jn.00082.2009. PMC 2775381. PMID 19675296.
  9. Bayer, Hannah (2012). "Getting to the root of basal dendrite formation". Nature Neuroscience. 15 (7): 935. doi:10.1038/nn0712-935. PMID 22735514.
  10. Calderon de Anda F, Rosario AL, Durak O, Tran T, Gräff J, Meletis K, Rei D, Soda T, Madabhushi R, Ginty DD, Kolodkin A, Tsai LH (2012). "Autism spectrum disorder susceptibility gene TAOK2 affects basal dendrite formation in the neocortex". Nature Neuroscience. 15 (7): 1022–1031. doi:10.1038/nn.3141.

Further reading

  • Spruston N (March 2008). "Pyramidal neurons: dendritic structure and synaptic integration". Nature Reviews. Neuroscience. 9 (3): 206–21. doi:10.1038/nrn2286. PMID 18270515.
  • Stuart G, Spruston N, Hausser M (1999). Dendrites. ISBN 978-0198745273.

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