Factors Shaping Later Stages of Dopamine Neuron Development
Following their birth in the prenatal period, dopamine neurons of the mesencephalon undergo a complex series of cellular events in response to external cues, which ultimately result in the establishment of their phenotype. This chapter focuses on a single important event in the postnatal development of mesencephalic dopamine neurons: the determination of their final adult number. The postnatal development of mesencephalic dopamine neurons follows the fundamental principles of classic neurotrophic theory. There is an apoptotic naturally occurring cell death (NCD) event that is maximal in both rodents and primates during the period of maximal development of target contact. As proposed by classic theory, this NCD event is regulated by target contact and retrograde neurotrophic support. In addition, there is evidence that it may also be regulated by afferent anterograde influences and autocrine control.
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