Preservation, sectioning, and staining of Schwann cell cultures for transmission electron microscopy analysis

Vania W. Almeida, Margaret L. Bates, Mary Bartlett Bunge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The transmission electron microscope (TEM) enables a unique and valuable examination of cellular and extracellular elements in tissue in situ, in cultured cells, or in pellets derived from suspensions of cells or other materials such as nanoparticles. Here we focus on the preparation of cultured Schwann cells or Schwann cell-containing dorsal root ganglion cultures. To gain as life-like as possible views of the cellular details, it is imperative to achieve excellent preservation of the cellular structure. The steps in the preparation of cultures described in this chapter represent the results of many years of accumulated TEM images to find the best methods of preservation for Schwann cells, myelin, and basal lamina components. All the materials required are listed. The methods for fixing, dehydrating, and embedding a culture are described. Choosing an area in the culture to view, scoring it, cutting it out of the resin-embedded culture, mounting it appropriately for enface or cross-sectioning, and performing the semi-thin and thin sectioning are detailed. Explaining the way in which the sections are then stained for TEM completes the Methods section. Preservation of cultured Schwann cells and their myelin sheaths can be outstanding due to the direct and rapid but careful addition of the fixative solution to the culture dish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Embedding
  • Primary cultures
  • Schwann cells
  • Transmission electron microscopy
  • Ultramicrotome sectioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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