Journal of neuroscience research

High-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution of native rat brain: suitability for preservation and immunoelectron microscopic localization of myelin glycolipids.

PMID 9710266


Galactocerebroside (GalC) and sulfatide are major constituent lipids in vertebrate myelin. Their precise immunolocalization in electron microscopy so far has been hampered by the fact that lipids are not immobilized by chemical fixation and thus get extracted during dehydration with organic solvents. Here, we examined the suitability of cryotechniques for the preservation and immunohistochemical localization of myelin glycolipids in rat brain at the ultrastructural level. Native cerebral cortex tissue, obtained by fine-needle biopsy, was cryoimmobilized by high-pressure freezing and dehydrated by freeze-substitution before embedding in Epon. This procedure resulted in an excellent preservation of brain ultrastructure. Concomitantly, immunogold labeling of ultrathin sections with the well-defined monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) O1, O4, and R-mAb, which were shown to react with GalC and/or sulfatide and some structurally related glycolipids, revealed a good conservation of relevant epitopes. These data suggest that in adult rat cerebral cortex, the most relevant antigens recognized by R-mAb, O1, and O4, namely GalC and sulfatide, are exclusively expressed in myelin structures. Because these mAbs are common markers for the identification of developing oligodendrocytes, this "postembedding glycolipid-labeling technique" holds great potential for studying oligodendroglial differentiation in normal and pathological conditions at the ultrastructural level.

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