[Reactive astrocytes and nestin expression in adult rats following spinal cord compression injury]

Ping-lin Yang, Xi-jing He, Hao-peng Li, Bin-shang Lan, Dong Wang, Guo-yu Wang, Si-yue Xu, Yi-heng Liu
Nan Fang Yi Ke da Xue Xue Bao, Journal of Southern Medical University 2008, 28 (10): 1752-5

OBJECTIVE: To observe the expressions of nestin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and their association with reactive astrocytes following spinal cord injury in adult rats.

METHODS: Adult rats with compression injury of the spinal cord were divided into 7 groups (n=6) and examined at 1, 3, and 5 days and at 1, 2, 4 and 8 weeks after the injury. The recovery of the locomotor function after the injury was evaluated with Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan (BBB) scale, and the degree and scope of the spinal injury were assessed using toluidine blue staining. Immunohistochemistry, double immunofluorescent labeling and an image analysis system were employed to observe nestin and GFAP expression and cell proliferation in different regions of the spinal cord.

RESULTS: The bilateral hind limb locomotor function of the rats declined severely 24 h after the spinal cord injury and underwent substantial recovery in 1 or 2 weeks after the injury, but followed by rather slow recovery afterwards. Toluidine blue staining of the spinal cord 24 h after the injury showed significant pathological changes in the neurons. The extension of the tissue injury increased with time till 1 week after the spinal cord injury. The site of injury and the adjacent tissues presented with markedly increased nestin and GFAP expressions 24 h after the injury, and nestin+/GFAP(-) cells dominated in the ependymal region around the central canal, whereas nestin+/GFAP+ dominated in the in other regions, showing significant difference from the control group. Nestin and GFAP expression reached the peak level 3 to 7 days after the injury and declined gradually till reaching nearly the control level at 2 weeks.

CONCLUSION: Compression injury of the spinal cord induces up-regulated expressions of nestin and GFAP, and nestin expression is positively correlated to the reactive astrocytes, which, along with the neural stem cells, respond to spinal nerve injury and possibly play a role in repair of the central nervous system injury.

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