Gliogenesis of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the neocortical grey and white matter of the adult rat: electron microscopic analysis of light radioautographs

J Comp Neurol. 1980 Oct 1;193(3):711-27. doi: 10.1002/cne.901930309.


The identification of newly formed glial cells in the normal adult cerebral cortex is unresolved, since the identification of cells incorporating [H3] thymidine has not been demonstrated in the adult by electron microscopy. In the present study, this problem has been studied by combining the resolution of the electron microscope with radioautography of 1-micrometer sections. Four normal male rats were injected at 90 days of age with [H3] thymidine and allowed to survive for 30 days. Labeled cells were found in 1-micrometer sections of the visual cortex of these adult rats, and electron micrographs of selected cells from these same sections demonstrated clearly two types of cells labeled, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, in both grey and white matter. The few cells that were tentatively identified as labeled microglia in the light microscope proved to resemble oligodendrocytes when examined in the electron microscope. In 1-micrometer sections of the cortical grey matter, heavily labeled astrocytes (13 or more silver grains over the nucleus) represent about 0.08% of the total astrocytic population, and heavily labeled oligodendrocytes also were about 0.08% of their population. In the cortical white matter, about 0.03% heavily labeled astrocytes were observed, compared to about 0.07% heavily labeled oligodendrocytes. For all neuroglial cells in both white and grey matter, the average percent heavily labeled cells was 0.066%, a value large enough to suggest a slow turnover of neuroglial cells during the lifespan of the rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Autoradiography
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Rats
  • Visual Cortex / cytology