Organization of radial and non-radial glia in the developing rat thalamus

Carolina Frassoni, Alida Amadeo, Barbara Ortino, Anita Jaranowska, Roberto Spreafico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The organization of glia and its relationship with migrating neurons were studied in the rat developing thalamus with immunocytochemistry by using light, confocal, and electron microscopy. Carbocyanine labeling in cultured slice of the embryonic diencephalon was also used. At embryonic day (E) 14, vimentin immunoreactivity was observed in radial fascicles spanning the neuroepithelium and extending from the ventricular zone to the lateral surface of the diencephalic vesicle. Vimentin-immunopositive fibers orthogonal to the radial ones were also detected at subsequent developmental stages. At E16, radial and non-radial processes were clearly associated with migrating neurons identified by the neuronal markers calretinin and γ-aminobutyric acid. Non-radial glial fibers were no longer evident by E19. Radial fibers were gradually replaced by immature astrocytes at the end of embryonic development. In the perinatal period, vimentin immunoreactivity labeled immature astrocytes and then gradually decreased; vimentin-immunopositive cells were only found in the internal capsule by the second postnatal week. Glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity appeared at birth in astrocytes of the internal capsule, but was not evident in most of the adult thalamic nuclei. Confocal and immunoelectron microscopy allowed direct examination of the relationships between neurons and glial processes in the embryonic thalamus, showing the coupling of neuronal membranes with both radial and non-radial glia during migration. Peculiar ultrastructural features of radial glia processes were observed. The occurrence of non-radial migration was confirmed by carbocyanine-labeled neuroblasts in E15 cultured slices. The data provide evidence that migrating thalamic cells follow both radial and non-radial glial pathways toward their destination. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-542
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 18 2000


  • Astrocytes
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Diencephalon
  • Electron microscopy
  • Neuronal migration
  • Vimentin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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