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Fine structure of the ependyma and intercellular junctions in the area postrema of the rat


Ependymal cells and their junctional complexes in the area postrema of the rat were studied in detail by tracer experiments using horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and colloidal lanthanum and by freeze-etch techniques, in addition to routine electron microscopy. The ependyma of the area postrema is characterized as flattened cells possessing very few cilia, a moderate amount of microvilli, a well-developed Golgi apparatus and rough endoplasmic reticulum. Numerous vesicles or tubular formations with internal dense content were found to accumulate in the basal processes of ependymal cells; the basal process makes contact with the perivascular basal lamina. It is suggested that the dense material in the tubulovesicular formations is synthesized within the ependymal cell and discharged into the perivascular space. The apical junctions between adjacent ependymal cells display very close apposition, with a gap of 2–3 nm, but no fusion of adjacent plasma membranes; they thus represent a transitional form between the zonulae adhaerentes present in the ordinary mural ependyma and the zonulae occludentes in the choroidal epithelium. A direct intercommunication between the ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the blood vascular system indicates that a region exists lacking a blood-ventricular CSF barrier.

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Correspondence to Dr. Takahiro Gotow.

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Gotow, T., Hashimoto, P.H. Fine structure of the ependyma and intercellular junctions in the area postrema of the rat. Cell Tissue Res. 201, 207–225 (1979).

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Key words

  • Area postrema, rat
  • Ependyma
  • Basal secretion
  • Cell junctions
  • Blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier