Evidence for migration of oligodendrocyte--type-2 astrocyte progenitor cells into the developing rat optic nerve

Nature. 1987 Jul 9-15;328(6126):155-7. doi: 10.1038/328155a0.


Formation of myelinated tracts in central nervous system (CNS) regions such as the optic nerve seems to depend on two glial cell types, both of which derive from a common progenitor cell. This oligodendrocyte--type-2 astrocyte (O-2A) progenitor cell gives rise to oligodendrocytes, which produce internodal myelin sheaths, and to type-2 astrocytes, which extend fine processes in the region of the nodal axolemma. The optic nerve also contains a third glial cell, the type-1 astrocyte, which derives from a separate precursor. These three glial cells develop in a fixed sequence over a two-week period: type-1 astrocytes appear at embryonic day 16 (E16), oligodendrocytes at the day of birth (E21 or postnatal day P0), and type-2 astrocytes between P8 and P10. Type-1 astrocytes secrete a potent mitogen which causes expansion of the O-2A progenitor cell population in vitro. Here, we report that dividing O-2A progenitor cells are highly motile and seem to migrate from the brain into the optic nerve, beginning at its chiasmal end. Our results indicate that long-distance migration along the neural axis is characteristic only of progenitors of the O-2A lineage and may serve to distribute these cells to regions of the CNS that will become myelinated. These results also suggest that the intrinsic neuroepithelial cells of the optic stalk may be even more restricted than previously thought, giving rise only to type-1 astrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Movement
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology*
  • Optic Nerve / embryology
  • Optic Nerve / growth & development*
  • Rats