Perturbation of axonal elemental composition and water content: Implication for neurotoxic mechanisms

R. M. LoPachin, C. M. Castiglia, A. J. Saubermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The concentration and distribution of labile elements in nerve cells is tightly regulated by multiple membrane transport processes and by binding to lipids and proteins. The multifaceted nature of elemental regulation provides numerous sites at which toxicants or disease processes might act to disrupt this regulation. Such disruption can affect cytoskeletal integrity, macromolecular synthesis, energy production, osmoregulation and other cellular processes. The possible role of perturbed elemental homeostasis in the mechanism of nerve injury caused by certain chemicals (e.g., acrylamide, 2,5-hexanedione) and neuropathic diseases (e.g., diabetes) has not been determined. To investigate this possibility, we have used electron probe x- ray micro-analysis (EPMA) to measure the distribution of elements and water in cellular compartments of myelinated axons (axoplasm, mitochondria) and glial cells (cytoplasm, myelin) in normal rat central and peripheral nervous systems. Results indicate that each compartment exhibits a characteristic composition of elements and water which might reflect function of that anatomical region or organelle. Injury-induced changes in elemental content of PNS axons and Schwann cells have been identified using several neurotoxic models (i.e., acrylamide, axotomy, diabetic neuropathy). Each type of injury initiated early alterations in element and water composition of both axons and glial cells. Compositional changes were specific and developed sequentially instead of simultaneously. Results of these studies suggest that, rather than being an epiphenomenon, altered elemental regulation might represent a primary component of many neurotoxic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Acrylamide
  • Axotomy
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Microprobe Analysis
  • Nerve Injury
  • Neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Perturbation of axonal elemental composition and water content: Implication for neurotoxic mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this