Morphologic effects of ammonia on primary astrocyte cultures. I. Light microscopic studies

Jocelyn B. Gregorios, Lee W. Mozes, Luz Oliva B. Norenberg, Michael D. Norenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


To evaluate the astrocytic alterations commonly seen in hepatic encephalopathy and other hyperammonemic states, primary astrocyte cultures derived from neonatal rats were exposed to varying concentrations of ammonia for one to ten days. Ammonia-treated cultures initially showed an increase in basophilia, prominent cytoplasmic processes and increased cytoplasmic granularity and vacuolization. Nucleoli were increased in size and there was an increase in nucleolar/nuclear ratio. Later, fragmentation and loss of cytoplasmic processes, formation of dense bodies and frank cellular disintegration were noted. The changes were proportional to the concentration and duration of ammonia treatment. Our studies show that ammonia is capable of directly causing morphologic alterations in astrocytes. We believe that the use of primary cultures provides a means of exploring the precise role of astrocytes in hyperammonemic states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-403
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1985


  • Ammonia
  • Astrocytes
  • Tissue culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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