Send to

Choose Destination
Glia. 2010 Oct;58(13):1581-93. doi: 10.1002/glia.21031.

Organization of glial cells in the adult sea cucumber central nervous system.

Author information

Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, PR 00936-8377, Puerto Rico.


The nervous system of echinoderms has long been considered too unique to be directly comparable to the nervous system of other Deuterostomia. Using two novel monoclonal antibodies in combination with epifluorescence, confocal, and electron microscopy, we demonstrate here that the central nervous system of the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima possesses a major non-neuronal cell type, which shares striking similarities with the radial glia of chordates. The basic features in common include (a) an elongated shape, (b) long radial processes, (c) short lateral protrusions branching off the main processes and penetrating into the surrounding neuropile, (d) prominent orderly oriented bundles of intermediate filaments, and (e) ability to produce Reissner's substance. Radial glia account for the majority of glia cells in echinoderms and constitutes more than half of the total cell population in the radial nerve cord and about 45% in the circumoral nerve ring. The difference in glia cell number between those regions is significant, suggesting structural specialization within the seemingly simple echinoderm nervous system. Both cell death and proliferation are seen under normal physiological conditions. Although both glia and neurons undergo apoptosis, most of the mitotic cells are identified as radial glia, indicating a key role of this cell type in cell turnover in the nervous system. A hypothesis is proposed that the radial glia could be an ancestral feature of the deuterostome nervous system, and the origin of this cell type might have predated the diversification of the Chordata and Ambulacraria lineages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center