Myelination is an essential component of normal development in the brain. Thus, the factors which influence the onset of myelination need to be identified and monitored during development to insure adequate myelination. These factors may also play a role in remyelination attempts which occur as a result of demyelinating diseases. One factor known to be involved in myelination is iron. In this study, the cellular deposition of iron and the intracellular iron storage protein ferritin are examined in the brains of 1-month old piglets. Ferritin consists of 2 subunits (H and L chains) which occur in different ratios in different organs. The subunits are functionally distinct so their pattern of expression at the cellular level reveals information about the iron requirement of the cell and utilization versus storage. The H subunit of ferritin is expressed in abundance in oligodendrocytes within white-matter tracts whereas the L subunit in this.region is found only in endothelial cells of blood vessels. H-ferritin-positive cells occur in clearly defined patches which are scattered throughout the white-matter tracts. The cellular distribution of iron is identical to that of H ferritin. H-ferritin-positive cells are identified as oligodendrocytes on the basis of immunofluorescent colocalization with CNPase. Also, some of the H-ferritin-positive cells are positive for myelin basic protein. However, the distribution of CNPase-positive cells -is more even in the white matter than the patches of H-ferritin/iron-positive cells. The relationship between H-ferritin- and CNPase-positive cells indicates that the former are oligodendrocytes, but also reveals a subset of oligodendrocytes in the white matter. The results of this study provide insight into how the intracellular iron is managed in oligodendrocytes. The factors which initiate iron uptake and ferritin expression in a select population of oligodendrocytes, and the relationship of this select population to myelinogenesis and myelin maintenance, have yet to be identified.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Neuroscience