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J Comp Neurol. 2000 Feb 28;418(1):106-20.

Dynamic transformation of Bergmann glial fibers proceeds in correlation with dendritic outgrowth and synapse formation of cerebellar Purkinje cells.

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Department of Anatomy, Hokkaido University School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.


Bergmann glia (BG) are unipolar cerebellar astrocytes, whose radial (or Bergmann) fibers associate with developing granule cells and mature Purkinje cells (PCs). In the present study, we investigated the morphodifferentiation of BG by immunohistochemistry for glutamate transporter GLAST and electron microscopy. GLAST was expressed widely in cerebellar radial glia/astrocytes during fetal and neonatal periods and became concentrated in BG postnatally. During the second postnatal week when PC dendrites grow actively, GLAST immunostaining revealed dynamic cytologic changes in Bergmann fibers in a deep-to-superficial gradient; Bergmann fibers traversing the external granular layer were stained as rod-like fibers, whereas in the molecular layer, the rod-like pattern was gradually replaced with a reticular meshwork. At postnatal day 10, the superficial rod-like domain was composed of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive/GLAST-positive straight fibers, forming cytoplasmic swellings and short filopodia. Along this domain, the tip of growing PC dendrites ascended vertically and entered the base of the external granular layer. The deeper reticular domain of Bergmann fibers was characterized by active expansion of GFAP-negative/GLAST-positive lamellate processes, which surrounded PC synapses almost completely. Therefore, the transformation of Bergmann fibers proceeds in correlation with dendritic differentiation of PCs. The intimate PC-BG relationships during cerebellar development raise the possibility that a preexisting glial shaft could serve as a structural substrate that directs dendritic outgrowth toward the pial surface, whereas the successive formation of a reticular glial meshwork should lead to structural maturation of newly formed PC synapses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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