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Morphological studies on neuroglia

V. Microglial cells in the cerebral cortex of the rat, with special reference to their possible involvement in synaptic function*

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Summary

Electron-microscopic survey of selectively stained microglial cells in the cerebral cortex of the rat reveals that the processes of this cell type often encircle axo-dendritic synapses. Enzyme-histochemical methods for thiamine pyrophosphatase (TPPase) or nucleoside diphosphatase (NDPase) were used for the selective marking of the microglial cells; TPPase and NDPase activities were observed in the plasma membrane of microglial cells. The synapses encircled by microglial processes displayed presynaptic structures containing round clear vesicles (50 nm in diameter) and a prominent thickening of the postsynaptic membrane. In vitro, the above-mentioned enzymatic activities were completely suppressed by neuroactive agents such as catecholamines and phenothiazine derivatives. Examination using enzyme-histochemical techniques suggests that a single enzyme may be responsible for both above-mentioned enzymatic reactions. The functional significance of microglial cells in the normal central nervous tissue is discussed.

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This work was supported by grant No. 437002 from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Japan

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Murabe, Y., Sano, Y. Morphological studies on neuroglia. Cell Tissue Res. 223, 493–506 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00218471

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