The ependymal cell cytoskeleton in the normal and injured spinal cord of mice
Omar Trujillo-Cenóz, María I Rehermann, Cecilia Maciel, María V Falco, Gabriela Fabbiani, Raúl E Russo
The cytoskeleton of ependymal cells is fundamental to organize and maintain the normal architecture of the central canal (CC). However, little is known about the plasticity of cytoskeletal components after spinal cord injury. Here, we focus on the structural organization of the cytoskeleton of ependymal cells in the normal and injured spinal cord of mice (both females and males) using immunohistochemical and electron microscopy techniques. We found that in uninjured animals, the actin cytoskeleton (as revealed by phalloidin staining) was arranged following the typical pattern of polarized epithelial cells with conspicuous actin pools located in the apical domain of ependymal cells. Transmission electron microscopy images showed microvilli tufts, long cilia, and characteristic intercellular membrane specializations. After spinal cord injury, F-actin rearrangements paralleled by fine structural modifications of the apical domain of ependymal cells were observed. These changes involved disruptions of the apical actin pools as well as fine structural modifications of the microvilli tufts. When comparing the control and injured spinal cords, we also found modifications in the expression of vimentin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). After injury, vimentin expression disappeared from the most apical domains of ependymal cells but the number of GFAP-expressing cells within the CC increased. As in other polarized epithelia, the plastic changes in the cytoskeleton may be critically involved in the reaction of ependymal cells following a traumatic injury of the spinal cord.