Patterns of X-radiation-induced schwann cell development in spinal cords of immature rats



Schwann cells, Schwann cell myelin, and connective tissue components develop in the spinal cord of the immature rat following exposure to x-rays. For the purposes of this paper, these intraspinal peripheral nervous tissue constituents are referred to as IPNT. A series of investigations are in progress to elucidate factors related to the development of IPNT, and the present study is a light microscopic evaluation of the relationship between the amount of radiation administered (1,000–3,000R) to the lumbosacral spinal cord in 3-day-old rats and the incidence and distribution of IPNT at intervals up to 60 days postirradiation (P-I). The results showed that IPNT was present in only 33% of the rats exposed to 1,000R, whereas its presence was observed in 86% or more of those in the 2,000-, 2,500-, and 3,000R groups. The distribution of IPNT was quite limited in the 1,000R group, where it was restricted to the spinal cord-dorsal root junction and was found in only a few sections within the irradiated area. The distribution was more widespread with increasing amounts of radiation, and IPNT occupied substantial portions of the dorsal funiculi and extended into the dorsal gray matter in the 3,000R group. In all aR mals developing IPNT in the groups receiving 2,000R or more, the IPNT was present in essentially all sections from the irradiated area. Further studies will compare in detail spinal cords exposed to 1,000R in which IPNT is an infrequent, limited occurrence with those exposed to higher doses where IPNT occurs in a more widespread fashion in essentially all animals.