Elemental composition and water content of rat optic nerve myelinated axons during in vitro post-anoxia reoxygenation

P. K. Stys, R. M. Lopachin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


During transient hypoxic episodes, CNS nerve cells and their axons undergo structural and functional damage. However, additional injury occurs as a result of subsequent tissue reperfusion. To examine mechanisms of this secondary injury, we have characterized the temporal patterns of element (e.g. Na, K, Ca) and water deregulation in rat optic nerve myelinated axons and glia during in vitro exposure to post-anoxia reoxygenation. Isolated nerves were exposed to 1 h of anoxia followed by varying periods of reoxygenation (20, 40, 60 and 180 min). Changes in subcellular distribution of elements and water were determined using electron probe X-ray microanalysis. In response to reoxygenation, the majority of large and medium axons exhibited a progressive worsening of anoxia-induced elemental deregulation. Axoplasmic Na, Cl and Ca increased substantially while K concentrations remained at or slightly below anoxic levels. Respective mitochondria expressed similar elemental changes except that Ca levels increased dramatically. A limited number of large and medium axons and their mitochondria showed initial but transient improvements in elemental composition. In contrast, approximately 50% of small axons initiated early improvements in transmembrane elemental distribution that continued to advance throughout the reoxygenation period. Remaining axons of this group displayed severe elemental derangement similar to that of larger fibers. The elemental composition of reoxygenated glial cells and myelin remained comparable to that reported after 60 min of anoxia. These results indicate that while larger axons express eventual severe elemental deregulation in spite of reoxygenation, many small axons appear capable of re-establishing near-normal transmembrane ion gradients. Results of the present study suggest reoxygenation/reperfusion injury of CNS axons is mediated by exacerbation of Ca2+ entry and the generalized ion deregulation initiated during anoxic or ischemic episodes. These findings constitute basic information regarding damage induced by post-anoxia reoxygenation and could, therefore, contribute toward understanding the mechanism of reperfusion injury following hypoxic or ischemic episodes in CNS white matter. Furthermore, deciphering the route of Ca2+ influx during reoxygenation/reperfusion might provide a basis for rational design of effective pharmacotherapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1090
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1996


  • Ca
  • Na Ca exchanger
  • anoxia
  • electron probe X-ray microanalysis
  • glial cells
  • reperfusion injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Elemental composition and water content of rat optic nerve myelinated axons during in vitro post-anoxia reoxygenation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this