The axon of the pyramidal neuron in the cerebral cortex arises either directly from the perikaryon or as a branch from a basal dendrite. When it arises from the perikaryon, an axon hillock is present. The hillock is a region in which there is a transition between the cytological features of the perikaryon and those of the initial segment of the axon. Thus, in the hillock there is a diminution in the number of ribosomes and a beginning of the fasciculation of microtubules that characterize the initial segment. Not all of the microtubules entering the hillock from the perikaryon continue into the initial segment. Distally, the axon hillock ends where the dense undercoating of the plasma membrane of the initial segment commences. Dense material also appears in the extracellular space surrounding the initial segment. The initial segment of the pyramidal cell axon contains a cisternal organelle consisting of stacks of flattened cisternae alternating with plates of dense granular material. These cisternal organelles resemble the spine apparatuses that occur in the dendritic spines of this same neuron. Axo-axonal synapses are formed between the initial segment and surrounding axon terminals. The axon terminals contain clear synaptic vesicles and, at the synaptic junctions, both synaptic complexes and puncta adhaerentia are present.

This content is only available as a PDF.