GFP imaging of live astrocytes: regional differences in the effects of ischaemia upon astrocytes
journal contributionposted on 2010-06-14, 13:24 authored by Clare Shannon, Mike Salter, Robert Fern
The basic division between white matter 'fibrous' astrocytes and grey matter 'protoplasmic' astrocytes is well established in terms of their morphological differences. The availability of transgenic animals with green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression restricted to specific glial cell types now provides an approach for looking at changes in cell number and morphology in the two astrocyte types in whole mount preparations. This is an important goal, as the ease of generating astrocyte cultures has led to a proliferation of studies that have examined ischaemic effects on astrocytes in vitro. This has in turn engendered a belief that astrocytes have an extraordinary resistance to ischaemic injury, a belief that runs counter to almost all the data available from in vivo and whole-mount preparations. One possible source of this confusion is the reactive changes that occur in astrocytes following injury, which include an increase in cell number that may obscure early astrocyte cell death and which has been reported to initiate within hours of an ischaemic event. However, we show here that neither white matter nor grey matter GFP(+) astrocytes exhibit any feature of reactive astrocytosis within a 180-min period of reperfusion following modelled ischaemia in neonatal whole-mount preparations. We also show that white matter astrocytes are much more sensitive to ischaemia-reperfusion injury than are grey matter astrocytes, a feature that may have high significance for developmental disorders of white matter tracts such as cerebral palsy.