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The Exciting Muscle and Nervous Tissue Histology

Muscle Tissue

Skeletal muscle: Gartner & Hiatt page 111. (slide # 6-3) Examine the slide labeled striated muscle. Focus on low power (4x) and work your way up to 40x. Note the vertical banding. These are striations. Striations are present because of the regular arrangement of actin and myosin protein. (Actin and myosin are the contractile proteins in muscle, but as we will see later, not all muscle tissue has striations). The dark bands within the striations are predominately myosin; the light bands are predominately actin. Faint lines within the actin bands, which may or may not be visible at 40x depending upon the resolution of your microscope, are Z lines. Each dark band is called an A band; each light band is called an I band. While A and I stand for anisotropic and isotropic which has to do with the way these bands appear in polarized light, we are better served by the following observation: A is the vowel in dark, and I is the vowel in light. No, thats not the way it was planned, but lets count our blessings. Examine youre the line drawing of the transmission electron micrograph in your yellow handout (also Gartner & Hiatt, p. 113). Note that Z lines form the borders of the sarcomere, the structural and functional unit of a skeletal muscle. Muscle cells average 10,000 sarcomeres each. While skeletal muscle is striated, it is not the only striated muscle. Cardiac muscle is striated as well, which often results in confusion. It would have been best to label these slides as skeletal muscle, not striated muscle, but you cant have everything. Draw the muscle cells with striations. Another slide (slide # 6-5) shows developing skeletal muscle cells. These cells will eventually fuse to form the long skeletal muscle cells we saw in slide # 6-2. Note how the cells are arranged as individuals; they have yet to fuse together. A curiosity of this slide is the pointed projections one can view of the tissues edge. These are developing hairs. As you might have guessed, slide # 6-5 is an embryonic skin slide.

Smooth muscle: Gartner & Hiatt p. 119. Take the smooth muslce slide (slide # 6-1) and hold the slide up to the light. Note the pink regions and the dark purple edges. The purple edge is epithelium; the pink regions are connective tissue and smooth muscle. Now examine this slide at low power under the microscope. Gartner & Hiatt p. 119. Draw the smooth muscle cells.

Cardiac Muscle: Gartner & Hiatt p.123.(slide 6-2) Examine the slides labeled cardiac muscle. Note too the dark lines between the cells. These are intercalated disks and their visibility is a unique feature of cardiac muscle tissue. (While the intercalated disks are visible with both stains, they will be more obvious in the thin section hemotoxylin preparation.) Intercalated disks are gap junctions and other junctional complexes. In contrast to skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle has a fabric-like appearance. Skeletal muscle cells are long and linear (as long as the muscle to which they belong). Cardiac muscle is found only in the heart. The cells weave together to make the musculature of the heart walls. Draw the cardiac muscle cells and show the intercalated disks.

Neurons and Neuroglial cells

Motor neurons: Examine the slide (slide # 8-9) called ox spinal cord motor neuron smearon low power. Note the large blue or reddish cells in the preparation. These are motor neurons (see line drawing). They have shirt extensions (dendrites) and typically a single long extension (axons). Take this up to 40x. Note the pale color of the nuclei and the tiny black dot, the nucleolus. The combination of the two resembles an eye. Draw a motor neuron and label the nucleus and nucleolus.

Another cell found on this slide is the microglial cell (see line drawing). These are the immune system of the central nervous system. They appear as small blue or red dots. Draw the microglial cells.

Now examine the slide called Spinal cord cross section, (slide # 8-4 & 8-5). (Gartner & Hiatt p. 135) Hold the slide up to the light and note that it has the appearance of a butterfly within a circle. Note two the two external structures that border the superior edge of the butterfly. Note: If your slide does not have these structures, be sure to borrow one that does. These are the dorsal root ganglia and will be examined shortly. Now examine the slide under the microscope at low power. Examine the butterfly. This is the gray matter of the spinal cord, the home of motor neurons and interneurons. Try to find some motor neurons in the gray matter. Draw the butterfly.

On this same slide, find the central canal (the hole in the middle of the body of the butterfly). Examine this first on low power, then work your way up to 40x. Note the epithelial cells lining the interior of the canal. There are ependymal cells (see line drawing). They are responsible for circulating cerebral spinal fluid. Ependymal cells are also found in the choroid plexus of the brain. These specialized neuroglial cells produce cerebral spinal fluid. Draw the central canal and label the ependymal cells.

Now examine the dorsal root ganglion (Gartner & Hiatt p. 141)(slide # 8-3) . Some of you may have separate slides (spinal cord ganglion) and the rest of you will have dorsal root ganglion on your spinal cord cross section slide. Within each ganglion are large cells that resemble eye balls. These are the cell bodies of sensory cells (pseudounipolar neurons, or simply unipolar neurons. Satellite cells surround each neuron. Their function is unknown, but it is speculated that they offer some sort of support. Less often they are called support cells. Gartner & Hiatt have chosen this designation, so be aware that support cells and satellite cells are the same thing. Draw the dorsal root ganglion and label the pseudounipolar neurons and the satellite cells.

Examine the slide medullated nerve (slide # 9-1). Gartner & Hiatt p. 143. Nerves are a collection of myelinated axons held together by areolar connective tissue and surrounded by dense fibrous connective tissue, the irregular form (the perineurium). Each myelinated axon is covered by a series of neuroglial cells called Schwann cells or neurolemmocytes. The Schwann cells provide the myelin coating, but are not continuous with each other. There are small gaps called nodes of Ranvier between each pair of Schwann cells that speed neurotransmission. Locate the nodes of Ranvier. Locate the thin fibroblast cells and the more rounded Schwann cell nuclei. (see line drawings). Draw the Schwann cells with nodes of Ranvier.

Examine the slide either medullated nerve teased(slide # 8-10)-or nerve fibers osmium tetraoxide (Gartner & Hiatt p. 143, figure 1b). In this slide the fibroblasts have been removed and the Schwann cells and nodes of Ranvier are more evident. Draw the Schwann cells with nodes of Ranvier.

There are two additional neuroglial cells that we will examine today. These are the oligodendrocytes and astrocytes (slide #s 7-3). Both of these have a spidery appearance. Oligodenrocytes have a few extensions while astrocytes have multiple extensions.