Identified neurons and glial cells in a parasympathetic ganglion were observed in situ with video-enhanced microscopy at intervals of up to 130 d in adult mice. Whereas the number and position of glial cells associated with particular neurons did not change over several hours, progressive differences were evident over intervals of weeks to months. These changes involved differences in the location of glial nuclei on the neuronal surface, differences in the apparent number of glial nuclei associated with each neuron, and often both. When we examined the arrangement of neurons and glial cells in the electron microscope, we also found that presynaptic nerve terminals are more prevalent in the vicinity of glial nuclei than elsewhere on the neuronal surface. The fact that glial nuclei are associated with preganglionic endings, together with the finding that the position and number of glial nuclei associated with identified neurons gradually changes, is in accord with the recent observation that synapses on these neurons are normally subject to ongoing rearrangement (Purves, D., J. T. Voyvodic, L. Magrassi, and H. Yawo. 1987. Science (Wash. DC). 238:1122-1126). By the same token, the present results suggest that glial cells are involved in synaptic remodeling.

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