Temporal and spatial expression of major myelin proteins in the human fetal spinal cord during the second trimester

Karen M. Weidenheim, Surender R. Bodhireddy, William K. Rashbaum, William D. Lyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Immunohistochemical identification of myelin basic protein (MBP) is a sensitive method for assessing myelination in the human fetal central nervous system (CNS). However, the temporospatial relationship of expression of two other major myelin proteins, proteolipid protein (PLP) and myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG) to that of MBP during fetal development has not been assessed in human tissues. Vibratome sections of cervical, thoracic and lumbosacral levels from 37 normal spinal cords of ≤10 to 24 gestational week (GW) fetuses were analyzed using immunohistochemical methods. Using light microscopy. MBP was the first oligodendrocyte marker detected, present by 10 GW at more rostral levels. PLP and MAG were detected rostrally between 12 to 14 GW. All myelin proteins were expressed in anterior to posterior and rostral to caudal gradients. By the late second trimester, expression of MBP. PLP and MAG was noted in all locations in the spinal white matter except for the corticospinal tract. Expression of MAG was particularly marked in the posterior root entry zone and propriospinal tracts. The results suggest that PLP and MAG are expressed later than MBP but follow similar spatial gradients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-745
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1996


  • Glial development
  • Human fetus
  • Myelin basic protein
  • Myelin proteins
  • Myelin-associated glycoprotein
  • Proteolipid protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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