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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1998 May;197(5):369-76.

Astroglial interlaminar processes in the cerebral cortex of prosimians and Old World monkeys.

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Programa Unidad de NeurobiologĂ­a Aplicada, (CEMIC-CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Previous observations have shown that astrocytes with interlaminar processes are present in the cerebral cortex of humans and New and Old World monkeys, but not in the rodent. The present report furthers the analysis of possible evolutionary aspects regarding the expression of such astroglial features. A comparison between young and adult Microcebus murinus, a prosimian, and Old World monkeys (Macaca mulatta and Papio hamadryas) is presented. Brain samples were processed for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), vimentin, MAP2 and SMI 311 immunocytochemistry, using different procedures. The cerebral cortex of adult Microcebus showed the presence of long astroglial processes, albeit reduced in number and length with respect to those observed in Old World monkeys. Macaca and Papio showed dense packing of such processes extending in most cortical regions to a depth of approximately 700 micrometers. Based on double immunolabelling for GFAP and MAP 2 antigens, the location and extent of these processes was shown to overlap with areas traversed by bundles and individual apical dendrites. Aged Old World specimens depicted an increased thickness of terminal portions of interlaminar processes, with increased morphological alterations. Comparisons made between the average thickness of the "brush" composed of interlaminar processes and the thickness of lamina I among the species analyzed disclosed an absence of relationship between them. This suggests that interlaminar processes do not represent cellular adaptations to the increase in thickness in superficial cortical laminae, but rather to some other evolutionary pressure. Since astroglial interlaminar processes are already present in a prosimian, although in a comparatively reduced manner, it is suggested that such processes underwent an early expression within the primate order, with increasing presence in more recent primate species.

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