Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 206, Issue 4, pp 277–280 | Cite as

Glial cells phagocytose neuronal debris during the metamorphosis of the central nervous system in Drosophila melanogaster

  • R. Cantera
  • Gerhard M. Technau


 Using electron microscopy we demonstrate that degenerating neurons and cellular debris resulting from neuronal reorganization are phagocytosed by glial cells in the brain and nerve cord of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster during the first few hours following pupariation. At this stage several classes of glial cells appear to be engaged in intense phagocytosis. In the cell body rind, neuronal cell bodies are engulfed and phagocytosed by the same glial cells that enwrap healthy neurons in this region. In the neuropil, cellular debris in tracts and synaptic centres resulting from metamorphic re-differentiation of larval neurons is phagocytosed by neuropil-associated glial cells. Phagocytic glial cells are hypertrophied, produce large amounts of lysosome-like bodies and contain a large number of mitochondria, condensed chromatin bodies, membranes and other remains from neuronal degeneration in phagosomes.

Key words Nervous system development Metamorphosis Phagocytosis Glial cells Drosophila melanogaster 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Cantera
    • 1
  • Gerhard M. Technau
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, SwedenSE
  2. 2.Institut für Genetik-Zellbiologie, Saarstrasse 21, D-55122 Mainz, GermanyDE

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