Biologia, Bratislava 54/Suppl. 6: 81-85, 1999.

ISSN 0006-3088 (Biologia). ISSN 1335-6399 (Biologia. Section Cellular and Molecular Biology).


Full paper

Structural changes induced in rat spinal cord by MK-801: light and electron microscopical observations.


Judita Orendacova

Institute of Neurobiology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Soltesovej 4, SK-04001 Kosice, Slovakia; tel.: ++421 95 765 069, fax: ++421 95 765 074, e-mail:

Received: January 5, 1999 / Accepted: October 5, 1999



N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists neurotoxicity is a phenomenon of considerable importance to the potential usefulness of these compounds in reducing focal ischaemic damage of central nervous system (CNS). MK-801 is a noncompetitive NMDA receptor blocker that, beside to its protective effect in CNS, also has a side effect on neurons. Recently, the risk-benefit ratio of MK-801 is assessed. The aim of our study was to investigate neurotoxic side effects of MK-801. A single 15 L dose of MK-801 (50g/kg b.w.) was administered intrathecally, into the subarachnoid space of rat's lumbar spinal cord. Five hours after injection, deeply anaesthetized animals were perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde and lumbar spinal cord segments were processed for electron microscopy. Control animals were intrathecally injected by 15 L of saline. Light and electron microscopical observations revealed a cytotoxic effect of MK-801, manifested by the presence of well-described vacuoles with a filamentous content in some neurons as well as a massive gliofilamentosis of astrocytes.


Key words: MK-801, light/electron microscopy, vacuolization, filamentous bodies, gliofilamentosis, spinal cord.