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Ultrastructural changes of the nodose ganglion cells following an intraneural injection of Ricinus communis agglutinin-60 into the vagus nerve in hamsters.

  • E A Ling
  • C Y Wen
  • J Y Shieh
  • T Y Yick
  • W C Wong
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1991
  • Biology


Virtually all the ganglion cells in the nodose ganglion in hamsters underwent rapid degeneration following an intraneural injection of RCA-60 into the vagus nerve in the cervical region. The earliest signs of neuronal degeneration were evident in animals which survived 5 days after the ricin application. A remarkable feature was the appearance of a variable number of granular dense bodies measuring 1-4 microns in diameter in the cytoplasm. They were composed of closely stacked cisternae which were continuous at the periphery with those of the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Associated with the membranous cisternae were large accumulations of glycogen. With longer survival time, these glycogen-membrane complexes appeared to disintegrate. Numerous vacuoles and neurofilaments accumulated in their vicinity. Satellite cells were activated between the 7th and 10th postoperative days. These penetrated deeply into the degenerating neurons dividing them into numerous fragments by their extensive cytoplasmic prolongations. The cytoplasmic fragments of the RCA-poisoned neurons eventually became necrotic and disintegrated in the satellite cells, suggesting a rapid mode of neuronophagia. The biosynthesis of acetylcholinesterase was inhibited by the ricin injected as shown by the drastic reduction of the enzyme activity in the rough endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear envelope. Some isolated ganglion cells apparently survived the RCA injection as shown by their occurrence in long surviving animals (30-90 days). A few of them displayed an enhanced density of their cytoplasm and neurites. It is postulated that this was induced by the RCA released from the RCA-poisoned neurons.

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