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Chronic cervical compressive myelopathy in horses: patterns of astrocytosis in the spinal cord

Yovich, J.V., Gould, D.H. and LeCouteur, R.A. (1991) Chronic cervical compressive myelopathy in horses: patterns of astrocytosis in the spinal cord. Australian Veterinary Journal, 68 (10). p. 334.

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The distribution and morphology of fibrous astrocytes in the cervical spinal cord of normal horses and horses with chronic compressive myelopathy were demonstrated using immunohistochemical staining for glial fibrillary acidic protein.

In the spinal cord from normal horses, astrocytes with stellate cell bodies and short processes were irregularly distributed in grey matter. In the white matter, their cell bodies were small and angular in areas adjacent to grey matter and larger and more stellate-shaped in the subpial area. Astrocyte processes were fine, and evenly distributed in a predominantly radial pattern in transverse sections of cord.

Gliosis was marked in the spinal cords of horses with cervical compressive myelopathy. In the grey matter at the level of compression astrocytes were often enlarged and rounded, with short, blunt processes, but the gliosis was generally mild. In the white matter, gliosis was obvious in areas of nerve fibre swelling and degeneration at the level of compression and in areas of ascending and descending Wallerian degeneration. The fine radial pattern of astrocyte fibres was replaced by a dense, irregular arrangement. Gliosis persisted in the cords of chronically affected horses after active nerve fibre degeneration had subsided. The areas of gliosis coincided with the areas of Marchi staining for degenerating myelin and with areas of myelin loss in osmium tetroxide post-fixed tissue. Histological observations were consistent with astrocytes replacing areas of extracellular space that remained after nerve fibre degeneration. It is concluded that astrocytic gliosis is a prominent and persistent alteration of the spinal cord of horses with chronic cervical compressive myelopathy.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary Studies
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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