Glial hypertrophy is associated with synaptogenesis following motor-skill learning, but not with angiogenesis following exercise

Glia. 1994 May;11(1):73-80. doi: 10.1002/glia.440110110.


Rats reared from weaning in a complex environment have an increase in 1) glial surface area, 2) capillary volume, and 3) the number of synapses, per neuron. In that paradigm it has not been possible to determine whether the glial increase more closely correlates with the increase in synaptic numbers or with angiogenesis. More recently we have found that rats that exercised had an increase in the density of capillaries without an increase in the synaptic numbers, whereas rats that learned new motor skills had a greater number of synapses per neuron without an increase in the density of capillaries. Those findings provided the opportunity to investigate whether changes in glial volume in the cerebellum correspond to changes in the number of synapses or in capillary volume. Glial area fraction estimates were obtained using point counts on electron micrographs from the previous studies. The skill learning group had a greater volume of molecular layer per Purkinje cell, and also a greater volume of glia per Purkinje cell, than rats in either an inactive group or rats in two exercise groups. No significant differences were found in glial volume per synapse and glial volume per capillary across groups, although there was a tendency for glial volume per capillary to be lower in the exercise groups. The data indicate that glial volume correlates with synaptic numbers and not with capillary density.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capillaries / physiology
  • Cerebellar Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebellar Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neuroglia / ultrastructure*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Purkinje Cells / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Synapses / physiology*