Closely ordered stages of myelin formation in cultures of newborn rat and mouse cerebellum, selected by direct light microscopy, were studied with the electron microscope. Electron micrographs of these cultures reveal the presence of neurons, axons, neuroglia, microglia, and ependymal cells. The appearance of the neuron is identical to that previously described in vivo. The neuroglial cell has long, branching processes, and its cytoplasm is characterized by packets of long, narrow fibrils. During myelin formation, a glial cell process surrounds the axon. This process may form an internal mesaxon and may spiral for several turns around the axon. Other glial cell processes may interdigitate with or overlay the innermost process to contribute to the multilamellated structure. The glial processes flatten and the cytoplasmic surfaces of the cell membrane come into contact to form the lamellae of the myelin sheath. These adhesions may be temporarily incomplete as evidenced by sequestered islands of glial cytoplasm among the myelin lamellae. Ultimately, a compact, apparently spiral, myelin sheath is formed. These findings are discussed in relation to in vivo central myelin formation.

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