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J Neurocytol. 1994 Aug;23(8):469-85.

Three-dimensional morphology of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the intact mouse optic nerve.

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Sherrington School of Physiology, UMDS, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.


The three-dimensional morphology of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes was analysed in the isolated intact mature mouse optic nerve, by correlating laser scanning confocal microscopy and camera lucida drawings of single cells, dye-filled with lysinated rhodamine dextran or horseradish peroxidase, respectively. These techniques enabled the entire process field of single dye-filled cells to be visualized in all planes and resolved the fine details of glial morphology. Morphometric analysis showed that the processes of all astrocytes had branches ending at the pial surface, on blood vessels, and freely in the nerve; branches ending in the nerve were described to end at nodes of Ranvier in the accompanying paper. Astrocytes were classified into a single morphological population in which each cell subserved multiple functions. The results of this study do not support the contention that astrocytes can be subdivided into two morphological and functional subtypes, namely type-1 and type-2, which have process ending either at the glia limitans or at nodes, respectively. Three-dimensional analysis of oligodendrocyte units, defined as the oligodendrocyte, its processes and the axons it ensheaths, showed the provision of single myelin segments for an average of 19 nearby axons (range 12-35) with a mean internodal length of 138 microns (range 50-350 microns). Mouse optic nerve oligodendrocytes were a homogeneous population and were markedly similar to those in the rat optic nerve. The results of our analysis of oligodendrocyte morphology are consistent with the view that the number and internodal length of myelin sheaths supported by a single oligodendrocyte are related to the diameter of the ensheathed axons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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