Astrocytic changes were examined ultrastructurally during serum-induced demyelination in organotypic cultures of mouse spinal cord tissue. The myelin sheaths of most myelinated fibers showed myelin breakdown. Sheet-like astrocytic processes completely and closely surrounded the demyelinating fibers and frequently engulfed myelin fragments. These processes were virtually devoid of glial filaments or microtubules and contained flocculogranular material, round and elongated cisterns and glycogen granules. Penetration of the myelin sheath by astrocytic processes was only rarely found. The cell body of the astrocyte was never insinuated between the myelin sheath and the axon. No endocytosis of myelin droplets via coated pits on the surface of astrocytes was observed. In comparison with phagocytic mononuclear cells in vivo, astrocytes in vitro dispose of myelin debris less actively. Astrocytes in serum-induced demyelination probably play a nonspecific but fundamental role during degeneration in segregating damaged nerve fibers from surrounding neuronal elements.
- Central nervous system
- Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis
- Organotypic culture
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology