Lectinhistochemistry and ultrastructure of microglial response to monosodium glutamate-mediated neurotoxicity in the arcuate nucleus


  • Pedro Amat
  • B. Peláez
  • J. L. Blazquez
  • F. E. Pastor
  • A. Sánchez


microglia, neurotoxicity, lycopersicon esculentum lectin, griffonia symplicifolia lectin, arcuate nucleus


In this study we describe the most relevant morphological features of the microglial reaction that takes place in the arcuate nucleus (AN) after neurotoxic injury induced by a single subcutaneous injection of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in neonatal rats. The time course of the reaction was evaluated by lectinhistochemistry. Microglial/macrophagic cells were labelled with the lectin obtained from Lycopersicon esculentum and with B4 isolectin from Griffonia simplicifolia. The microglial response was also studied by ultrastructural observations. 'The histochemical study revealed the presence of few reactive microglial cells at 6 h post-injection. These cells were intensely stained and had a globular morphology but contained no neuronal debris inside them when observed under the electron microscope. At 12 h post-injection, the number of microglial cells had increased and, at the same time, intense phagocytic activity was observed ultrastructurally. The microglial reaction peaked at 24 and 36 h post-injection, when the number of microglial/ macrophagic cells was maximum, although the ultrastructural observations showed that at 36 h the amount of debris ingested by macrophages was decreased with respect to animals sacrificed at 24 h. Finally, at 4 days after neurotoxic injection the number and morphology of microglial cells were similar to those observed in the control rats. The ultrastructural study also revealed the existence of microglial cell mitosis in the territory of the AN together with a strong increase in the number of supraependymal cells resembling macrophages in the third ventricle during the lesion. Our data demonstrate that activated microglial cells initially extend throughout the damaged territory, but from 24-36 h onwards they are especially patent in the ventrolateral portions of the AN.