Myelination of the rat optic nerve during postnatal undernourishment and recovery: a morphometric analysis

R. C. Wiggins, G. N. Fuller, L. Brizzee, A. C. Bissel, T. Samorajski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Newborn rats were undernourished from the second postnatal day through 20 days of age and weaned to a diet of laboratory chow ad libitum. Optic nerve development was examined by various light and electron microscopic techniques at 14, 21, 35 and 63 days of age. The degree of undernourishment achieved resulted in body growth lag comparable to results obtained in our previous studies. Although cellularity (cells per photomicrograph area) of the oligodendroglia was unaffected, there was an apparent significant relative reduction in the total number of myelinated fibers by 21 days of age, as determined by light micrscopic sampling. Ratios of unmyelinated-to-myelinated fibers were thus estimated by electron microscopy, and results indicated an early increase in the ratio (14 days). Either as the result of catch up in a developmental lag, or as a result of possible restorative effects of rehabilitation, these differences were insignificant by 35 days of age. The relationship between axon circumference and numbers of myelin lamellae was determined by regression analysis, which revealed a significant reduction in numbers of lamellae over axons of all sizes at 14 days. By 21 days, only fibers in the size range of 1-2 μm of circumference showed a difference, and by 35 days there were no significant differences. These results all indicate that there is a significant myelin reduction in optic nerve of the undernourished rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 13 1984


  • axon morphometric
  • nutritional recovery
  • optic nerve
  • undernourishment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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