Effects of acrylamide on subcellular distribution of elements in rat sciatic nerve myelinated axons and Schwann cells

Richard M. LoPachin, Carolyn M. Castiglia, Ellen Lehning, Albert J. Saubermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Electron probe X-ray microanalysis was used to determine whether experimental acrylamide (ACR) neuropathy involves deregulation of subcellular elements (Na, P, S, Cl, K, Ca and Mg) and water in Schwann cells and small, medium and large diameter myelinated axons of rat sciatic nerve. Results show that in proximal but not distal sciatic nerve, ACR treatment (2.8 mM in drinking water) was associated with an early (15 days of exposure), moderate increase in mean axoplasmic K concentrations (mmol/kg) of medium and small diameter fibers. However, all axons in proximal and distal nerve regions displayed small increases in dry and wet weight contents of axoplasmic Na and P. As ACR treatment progressed (up to 60 days of exposure), Na and P changes persisted whereas proximal axonal K levels returned to control values or below. Alterations in mitochondrial elemental content paralleled those occurring in axoplasm. Schwann cells in distal sciatic nerve exhibited a progressive loss of K, Mg and P and an increase in Na, Cl and Ca. Proximal glia displayed less extensive elemental modifications. Elemental changes observed in axons are not typical of those associated with cell injury and might reflect compensatory or secondary responses. In contrast, distal Schwann cell alterations are consistent with injury, but whether these changes represent primary or secondary mechanisms remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-246
Number of pages9
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 16 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Acrylamide
  • Axon
  • Electron probe X-ray microanalysis
  • Element
  • Nerve cell
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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