Microglial movement to sites of nerve lesion in the leech CNS

Vincent J. Morgese, Ellen J. Elliott, Kenneth J. Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The small glial cells in the central nervous system of the leech, Hirudo medicinalis, have been studied using two histolotical stains. Weak silver carbonate, a classic stain for vertebrate microglia, can selectively stain these small glial cells and shows that they are morphologically similar to vertebrate microglia. Feulgen's DNA-specific stain is useful for counting the compact and distinctive microglial nuclei. In uninjured connectives, which link segmental ganglia, there are 134 ± 28 microglia per 210 μm of connective length. Within 24 h after the nerve cord is crushed leech microglia aggregate at the site of injury. This increase in cells, seen both in vivo and in culture, is approximately 5-fold. Although cells do not continue to accumulate at the injury site after the first day, their numbers continue to vary with time in the regions immediately adjacent to the crush for at least one week. A second crush made 24 h after the first shows that leech microglia are capable of responding to repeated injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-170
Number of pages5
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • cell migration
  • leech
  • microglia
  • nerve injury
  • tissue culture
  • weak silver carbonate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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