Postnatal changes in the number of astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia in the visual cortex (area 17) of the macaque monkey: a stereological analysis in normal and monocularly deprived animals

J Comp Neurol. 1982 Sep 20;210(3):307-15. doi: 10.1002/cne.902100309.


The numerical densities (Nv) of astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia were measured in individual laminae of the striate cortex of macaque monkeys ranging in age from newborn to adult. Using measurements of cortical thickness and surface area, the total number of cells in the striate cortex of one hemisphere was derived for each glial cell type. Normal monkeys were compared at 3 months and 6 months of age to animals reared from birth with a monocular eyelid suture. No significant differences were observed between normal and monocularly deprived monkeys. The combined data from these groups, however, demonstrated several significant developmental changes. The Nv of astrocytes decreased from birth to 6 months of age and subsequently increased in the adult. The greatest changes were seen in the more superficial laminae. These changes, however, were only a response to a substantial overshoot in cortical volume at six months: the total number of astrocytes in the striate cortex did not change. There was a tenfold increase in both the Nv and the total number of oligodendrocytes from birth to maturity with a corresponding increase in the density of myelinated axons. The greatest changes were observed in the deeper laminae. The total number of microglia remained relatively constant from birth to 6 months of age. There was a 55% reduction in the number of microglia in the adult, although statistical analysis indicated that this decrease was only of borderline significance. The possible relationships between these postnatal changes in glial cell numbers and the development of neuronal connectivity are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cell Count
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Sensory Deprivation*
  • Visual Cortex / cytology*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology