UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Macro-glial specialization in the brain Thompson, Sharleen Grace


This thesis examines the evidence for glial cell specialization. It starts with an historical description of the development of ideas about glial cells, demonstrating how each technological advance allowed an increase in understanding of various morphologically different types of glial cells and how each technique provided more evidence for glial heterogeneity. The most spectacular recent development is the increasing evidence for biochemical heterogeneity in cells in vivo, in different cell lines and in primary cultures from various regions. These biochemical differences have been found both among cells that are morpholgically similar and between different cell types. The results of three experiments which provide direct or indirect evidence for glial cell heterogeneity are presented. The first experiment is an anatomical analysis of the cellular localization of hemosiderin in rat brain. The results show primary localization to oligodendrocytes but not all oligodendrocytes as there are distinct regional differences in both density and numbers of oligodendrocytes staining. In the second experiment, an alternate route of glutamate formation from proline or ornithine via 1-pyrroline dehydrogenase is demonstrated and shown to be present in only a small subset of glial cells and not in other cell types. In the third experiment the glial heterogeneity concept is used to provide an alternate interpretation of all data on biochemical effects of thiamine deficiency in rat brain. The conclusion summarizes the contribution of the experiments to the already strong evidence for glial heterogeneity and suggests ways that assumptions of glial heterogeneity rather than homogeneity could affect research the neurosciences.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.