Microglia are considered to serve as a guardian of the brain. In achieving this task, they have been observed to transform into a reactive form and then an ameboid form. Several substances are implicated in the control of such behavior. We examined the effect of hydrogen peroxide on cultured microglia of ameboid form obtained from the fetal rat brain employing video-enhanced contrast-differential interference contrast microscopy. Microglia harvested from the culture bottle were observed to float in a spherical shape with abundant filopodia on the surface. However, on coming into contact with the glass surface of a cover slip, they immediately transformed into an ameboid form. The microglia spread themselves out, surrounded by thin transparent lammellipodia, which would not be clearly observable by either light microscopy or electron microscopy. In a concentration-dependent fashion, 10-3-10-1 M hydrogen peroxide solution enhanced the ruffling process of the lamellipodia and formation of vesicles (phagosomes), which displayed a typical phagocytotic form. It is concluded that an increase in free radicals in ischemic tissue tends to facilitate the phagocytosis of ameboid microglia as macrophages.
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