• rat optic nerve;
  • perinodal astrocyte processes;
  • astrocyte function


Using Golgi impregnation and intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase, we show that the adult rat optic nerve contains two distinct types of astrocyte-like glial cells: one has mainly radially oriented processes that terminate on blood vessels or on the pial surface; the other has mainly longitudinally oriented processes that associate with, and often terminate at, nodes of Ranvier, but do not end on blood vessels or the pial surface. The sequence of appearance of the two types of glial cells in the developing nerve, taken together with previous immunocytochemical findings, suggests that these cells may correspond to the two types of astrocytes previously described in cultures of perinatal optic nerve cells—those with mainly radially oriented processes corresponding to type-1 astrocytes and those with mainly longitudinally oriented processes corresponding to type-2 astrocytes. To our knowledge, this is the first description of a class of central nervous system (CNS) glial cell whose processes are primarily associated with nodes of Ranvier.