The distribution of astrocytes, oligodendroglia and myelin in normal and transplanted rat superior colliculus: An immunohistochemical study

A. R. Harvey, G. W. Plant, A. P. Kent

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    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Immunohistochemical methods have been used to determine the distribution of macroglia and myelin in the normal rat superior colliculus (SC) and in grafts of fetal tectal tissue. The fetal tissue was derived from 15 day-old (E15) rat embryos and was transplanted onto the midbrain of newborn host rats of the same (PVG/c) strain. Antibodies to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and carbonic anhydrase II (CAII) were used to visualize astrocytes and oligodendroglia respectively. Myelin was immunostained with antibodies to either proteolipid protein (PLP) or myelin basic protein (MBP). In the normal SC, GFAP positive astrocytes were found scattered throughout the SC, particularly in the superficial layers. They were especially prominent at the pial surface, around major blood vessels and at the midline between the two colliculi. CAII immunoreactive oligodendroglia and associated myelin were also found throughout the SC; by far the lowest density was seen in the stratum griseum superficiale (SGS). Both types of macroglial cell were found in abundance in tectal transplants, indicating that the precursors of these glial types were present in the E15 rat mesencephalon. In mature grafts, large numbers of fibrous astrocytes were found throughout the neuropil and the level of GFAP immunoreactivity was consistently greater than in host SC. Astrocytes seemed to be maintained in a reactive, perhaps immature state within the grafted tissue. Tectal transplants possessed large numbers of fully differentiated CAII positive oligodendroglia and the grafts contained a dense network of myelinated axons. However the distribution of CAII and PLP immunoreactivity was not homogeneous; there were localized, well-defined regions that contained few oligodendroglia and relatively little myelin. These areas stained intensely for acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and were almost certainly homologous to the SGS of normal SC. The relative lack of oligodendroglia in the AChE stained patches in grafts and in SGS in situ suggests that local factors influencing the proliferation and distribution of oligodendroglia in normal SC may have been operating in a similar manner within the tectal transplant neuropil.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Neural Transplantation and Plasticity
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1993


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