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Astrocyte reactivity in the glia limitans superficialis of the rat medial prefrontal cortex following sciatic nerve injury


The glia limitans superficialis (GLS) on the rodent cortical surface consists of astrocyte bodies intermingled with their cytoplasmic processes. Many studies have observed astrocyte reactivity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) parenchyma induced by a peripheral nerve injury, while the response of GLS astrocytes is still not fully understood. The aim of our study was to identify the reactivity of rat GLS astrocytes in response to sciatic nerve compression (SNC) over different time periods. The alteration of GLS astrocyte reactivity was monitored using immunofluorescence (IF) intensities of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), glutamine synthetase (GS), and NFκBp65. Our results demonstrated that SNC induced GLS astrocyte reactivity seen as increased intensities of GFAP-IF, and longer extensions of cytoplasmic processes into lamina I. First significant increase of GFAP-IF was observed on post-operation day 7 (POD7) after SNC with further increases on POD14 and POD21. In contrast, dynamic alteration of the extension of cytoplasmic processes into lamina I was detected as early as POD1 and continued throughout the monitored survival periods of both sham and SNC operations. The reactivity of GLS astrocytes was not associated with their proliferation. In addition, GLS astrocytes also displayed a significant decrease in GS immunofluorescence (GS-IF) and NFκB immunofluorescence (NFκB-IF) in response to sham and SNC operation compared with naïve control rats. These results suggest that damaged peripheral tissues (following sham operation as well as peripheral nerve lesions) may induce significant changes in GLS astrocyte reactivity. The signaling mechanism from injured peripheral tissue and nerve remains to be elucidated.

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We thank Ms. Bc. Jitka Mikulášková, Mgr. Jana Vachová, and Mr. Lumír Trenčanský for their skillful technical assistance.


This work was supported by MUNI/A/1331/2021.

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All authors listed above have contributed sufficiently to be included as authors. K.B. and P.D. conceived the experiments, contributed to the analysis and/or interpretation of data, the critical discussion of the results, and the elaboration of the manuscript, and obtained funding for the study. V.S. directly participated in the execution of immunohistochemical assays and elaboration of the manuscript. All the authors have revised the work critically for important intellectual content, approved the final version to be published, and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Correspondence to Petr Dubový.

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The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

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Bretová, K., Svobodová, V. & Dubový, P. Astrocyte reactivity in the glia limitans superficialis of the rat medial prefrontal cortex following sciatic nerve injury. Histochem Cell Biol 159, 185–198 (2023).

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