Original Paper

Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 113, Issue 6, pp 683-693

Cellular localization of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP) following traumatic brain injury in humans

  • Frank K. H. van LandeghemAffiliated withInstitute of Neuropathology, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, CVK Email author 
  • , Thorsten WeissAffiliated withInstitute of Neuropathology, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, CVK
  • , Manfred OehmichenAffiliated withInstitute of Legal Medicine, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein
  • , Andreas von DeimlingAffiliated withDepartment of Neuropathology, Universitätsklinikum, Med. Fakultät d. Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg

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The pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP) is involved in many processes of the developing and mature central nervous system, such as proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, neurotransmission, inflammation and neuroprotection. Alternative posttranslational processing of PACAP results in two biologically active, amidated 27- and 38-amino acid peptides termed PACAP27 and PACAP38. In the present study, we examined whether traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects cellular immunopositivity for PACAP27 and PACAP38. Patients (n = 55) were classified into three groups dependent on their survival time (under 24 h, between 24 h and 7 days and between 7 days and 99 days postinjury). PACAP27 and PACAP38 were expressed by neurons and glial cells in normal human neocortex (n = 10). Following TBI, the total number of PACAP27- and PACAP38-positive cells was significantly decreased for a prolonged survival period within the traumatized neocortex. In the pericontusional cortex, the number of cells expressing PACAP27 and PACAP38 was significantly increased at all survival times examined. Triple immunofluorescence examinations revealed a significant increase in the absolute numbers of GFAP-positive reactive astrocytes as well as a decrease in the CNP-positive oligodendrocytes, each coexpressing PACAP27 or PACAP38 in the contusional and pericontusional cortex. We hypothesize that the increase of glial PACAP immunoreactivity may be interpreted as part of a complex endogenous neuroprotective response in the pericontusional regions, but the precise role of PACAP following TBI is yet to be determined.


Astrocyte Human Oligodendrocyte PACAP27 PACAP38 Traumatic brain injury