Gel-to-gel phase transition may occur in mammalian cells: Mechanism of formation of "dark" (compacted) neurons

Ferenc Gallyas, O. Farkas, Mária Mázló

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the course of many diseases, individual non-apoptotic cells that are randomly distributed among undamaged cells in various mammalian tissues become shrunken and hyperbasophilic ("dark"). The light microscopic shrinkage is caused by a potentially reversible, dramatic compaction of all ultrastructural elements inside the affected cells, and escape of the excess water through apparently intact plasma membrane. In the case of neurons, the ultrastructural compaction rapidly involves the soma-dendrite domains in an all-or-nothing manner, and also mm-long axon segments. The present paper demonstrates that such ultrastructural compaction in neurons, which affects the whole soma-dendrite domain or long axon segments, can take place both immediately after an in vivo head injury and in rat brains perfusion-fixed for 30 min., and then chilled to just above the freezing point before the same kind of head injury was inflicted. This argues strongly against any enzyme-mediated compaction mechanism. On the a nalogy of gel-to-gel phase transitions in polymer chemistry, we hypothesize a pure physico-chemical compaction mechanism. Specifically, after initiation at a single site in each affected cell, the ultrastructural compaction is propelled throughout the whole cell on the domino principle by the free energy stored in the form of non-covalent interactions among the constituents of some cytoplasmic gel structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-324
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of the Cell
Volume96
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

Fingerprint

Phase Transition
Gels
Neurons
Carisoprodol
Dendrites
Craniocerebral Trauma
Axons
Cytoplasmic Structures
Freezing
Polymers
Perfusion
Cell Membrane
Light
Water
Brain
Enzymes

Keywords

  • Cytoplasmic gel
  • Energy storing
  • Head injury
  • Mechanical energy
  • Post mortem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Gel-to-gel phase transition may occur in mammalian cells : Mechanism of formation of "dark" (compacted) neurons. / Gallyas, Ferenc; Farkas, O.; Mázló, Mária.

In: Biology of the Cell, Vol. 96, No. 4, 05.2004, p. 313-324.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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