Anatomical and Ultrastructural Sex Differences in Mean Diameter and Thickness of Myelinated Axons in Adult Rat Corpus Callosum
Amjad Shatarat; Loai Alzghoul; Duaa Al Qattan & Maha ELBeltagy
SUMMARY: Sexual dimorphism exists at all levels of the nervous system. These sex differences could underlie gender-related differences in behavior and neuropsychological function, as well as the gender differences in the prevalence of various mental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorders, and schizophrenia. Myelination, on the other hand, is a unique cellular process that can have a dramatic impact on the structure and physiology of an axon and its surrounding tissue. The corpus callosum (CC) is the largest of the brain commissures, which connects the cerebral cortices of the two hemispheres, and provides interhemispheric connectivity for information transfer and processing between cortical regions. Variation in the axonal properties of CC will alter the interhemispheric connectivity. The CC consists of myelinated and unmyelinated axons, glial cells and blood vessels. Several functional studies have reported that the function of CC is associated with its axons density and myelination properties. The sexual dimorphism in the axonal content of the CC has always been controversial; hence, the aim of this study was to analyze the differences in axons’ diameter and myelin sheath thickness of the CC between male and female rats. For this purpose, five pairs of adult male and female rats were perfused and the CC were removed and sectioned. Four sections from different subregions of the corpus callosum that represent the genu, anterior body, posterior body, and splenium of the CC were stained and electron microscopic images were captured using stereological guidelines. Later, the axons diameter and myelin sheath thickness for each subregion were calculated and compared between males and females. Our preliminary findings of the present study indicated region specific differences in the myelinated axon thickness and diameter in the CC between male and female rats.KEY WORDS: Dimorphism; Corpus callosum (CC); Electron microscope; Myelinated axons; Diameter and myelin sheath thickness.