Microglia in the olfactory bulb of rats during postnatal development and olfactory nerve injury with zinc sulfate: A lectin labeling and ultrastrucutural study

C. Y. Chang, H. F. Chien, Y. F. Jiangshieh, C. H. Wu

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Using isolectin (GSA I-B4) as a marker, this study examined the possible alterations of lectin-labeled membranous glycoproteins in microglial cells in the olfactory bulb of normal development and under experimentally induced degeneration. In light microscopy, several morphological types of microglial cells representing different degrees of cell differentiation were distributed in the bulb laminae. A gradient of microglial differentiation extending from the intermediate to superficial and intermediate to deep occurs in the bulb layers. The differentiation gradient and lectin labeling pattern of microglial cells in the developing bulb resembled those in other areas of the brain tissues. Differentiating microglia showed a gradual diminution of lectin staining when the nascent round cells transformed into the mature ramified cells. Microglia in the external plexiform layer of the olfactory bulb were the first to mature and the cells expressed very weak lectin reactivity. In mature or adult rats, some microglial cells showing intense lectin labeling were observed in the olfactory nerve layer, granule cell layer and subependymal layer. Ultrastructurally, lectin labeling was localized at the trans saccules of the Golgi apparatus. Microglial cells in other bulb laminae, however, exhibited a negative reaction for the isolectin at the Golgi apparatus. Following intranasal irrigation of zinc sulfate, some microglial cells in the olfactory nerve layer and glomerular layer were activated to become phagocytic cells with increased lectin labeling at their ramified processes. GSA I-B4 staining was also localized at their trans saccules of the Golgi apparatus. The lectin labeling pattern of these phagocytic cells resembled that of differentiating microglia in postnatal bulbs, suggesting that bulb microglia in the lesioned sites were activated through cell dedifferentiation into macrophages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-333
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscience Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2003



  • Brain macrophage
  • Electron microscopy
  • GSA isolectin
  • Histochemical staining
  • Neuronal degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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