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Abstract

Supraependymal cells in the third ventricle of neonatal male and female rats were examined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Supraependymal cells in the third ventrical of adult male rats were also studied with SEM. Many neonate supraependymal cells were round to oval in shape and exhibited varying degrees of surface irregularity. Small finger-like processes or narrow pseudopodia projected from the cell bodies over the underlying ependymal cells. Some neonatal supraependymal cells exhibited flattened cell bodies with broad pseudopodia and few surface irregularities. TEM revealed a variety of cell profiles. Prominent within the cytoplasm of many supraependymal cells were lysosomes, smooth and coated vesicles suggesting pinocytosis, subplasmalemma vacuoles, and occasional lipid droplets. The morphological characteristics of neonatal supraependymal cells suggested they were mononuclear phagocytes. Adult supraependymal cells exhibited more pleomorphic cell shapes with numerous cell processes, varying widely in size and shape, and often extending over the ventricular surface for considerable distances. These observations, in combination with previous studies by other investigators, suggest that some adult supraependymal cells may also be phagocytic in nature. The differences in morphology between adult and neonatal supraependymal phagocytes may relate to the differing third ventricle environment between adult and neonates and/or differences in the origin of the phagocytes with age.