We monitored biosynthetic activity of optic tract glia during regeneration of retinal ganglion cell axons in the goldfish and found that the greatest level of incorporated [3H]thymidine and [3H]leucine occurred in glia by 10-15 days after axotomy. During this period there was a marked increase in the number of oligodendroglia and multipotential glia near the site of injury with no change occurring in the astroglial population. Electron microscopic autoradiography showed that oligodendroglia and multipotential cells incorporated 5-7-fold more thymidine than did cells of intact control preparations. Though all glial cell types incorporated more [3H]leucine during axonal regeneration, oligodendroglia and multipotential cells together accounted for more than 90% of measured radioactivity. In order to characterize glial-stimulating events specific to axonal regeneration, we produced axonal degeneration in the optic tract by removal of the retina. Optic tract glia during axonal degeneration incorporated less amino acid whrn compared to glia associated with regenerating axons. The degenerating optic tract also had less 2′,3′-cyclic nucleotide 3′-phosphohydrolase, an enzyme produced by oligodendroglia, than that found in the regenerating visual system. Our results suggest that in response to ganglion cell axotomy oligodendroglia and multipotential glia of the goldfish optic tract proliferate. Moreover, regenerating axons provide one type of stimulant for glial protein biosynthesis.
- optic tract