Brains obtained from three species of mediterranean cephalopods (Loligo, Sepia, Octopus) were fixed in Bouin's solution. Paraffin sections were cut sequentially at the frontal plane and used for Alcian blue staining (critical electrolyte concentration method), colloidal iron hydroxide staining procedure, the periodic acid Schiff's reagent method, and the lead tetra-acetate-Schiff method. The stained sections were evaluated at 2 regions of different histological composition: the palliovisceral ganglion and the optic lobe. A high concentration of anionic components was found in synaptic regions of the neuropil whereas neuronal cell bodies showed a relatively weak staining of these constituents. There was a significant reaction of the perineuronal glia nets in the cellular rind of the palliovisceral ganglion. From the comparison of staining patterns obtained with the 4 methods in this study and literature data it can be concluded that the detected anionic sites are mainly carboxyl groups of acidic proteins and/or glycoproteins. Sulphate groups may be present in lower concentrations. Their distribution reveals that the role of anionic components other than sialic acids in the invertebrate brain might be discussed in the context of synaptic transmission similar to that in vertebrates. The possible involvement of the glia cell population has to be taken into consideration. © 1984, VEB Gustav Fischer Verlag Jena. All rights reserved.
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