The incomplete morphological characterization of type 2 astrocytes is in part responsible for the slow progress of studies on these cells. To examine and characterize type 2 astrocytes morphologically, three-dimensional fine structures of the surfaces of type 2 astrocytes cultured from rat cerebella were studied by a combination of atomic force microscopic and immunocytochemical techniques. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed irregular ridge-like structures that form a meshwork distributed throughout the cell body surfaces and the thick processes. These ridges were found to be of two heights (31 nm and 82 nm). This finding indicates two possible configurations responsible for shaping the meshwork: (1) two structures of different thickness are beneath the cell membrane; and (2) two structures are located at two different depths from the cell membrane. On the other hand, immunocytochemical studies for tubulin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) revealed that these cytoskeletal filaments are similarly distributed within the resolution power of a light microscope. However, no detectable structures were obtained by actin staining. The immunocytochemical findings suggest that the AFM-revealed ridges forming the irregular meshwork on the cell surfaces may reflect very fine bundles of tubulin and/or GFAP. Therefore, AFM study, with the help of immunocytochemical study, is a powerful tool for characterizing cell morphology. The results of the present study reveal the first morphological characterization of type 2 astrocytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology