In multiple sclerosis, microglia/macrophage activation and astrocyte reactivity are important components of the lesion environment that can impact remyelination. The current study characterizes these glial populations relative to expression of candidate regulatory molecules in cuprizone demyelinated corpus callosum. Importantly, periods of recovery after acute or chronic cuprizone demyelination are examined to compare conditions of efficient versus limited remyelination, respectively. Microglial activation attenuates after early demyelination. In contrast, astrocyte reactivity persists throughout demyelination and a 6-week recovery period following either acute or chronic demyelination. This astrocyte reaction is characterized by (a) early proliferation, (b) increased expression of GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein), Vim (vimentin), Fn1 (fibronectin) and CSPGs (chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans) and (c) elaboration of a dense network of processes. Glial processes elongated in the axonal plane persist throughout lesion areas during both the robust remyelination that follows acute demyelination and the partial remyelination that follows chronic demyelination. However, prolonged astrocyte reactivity with chronic cuprizone treatment does not progress to barrier formation, i.e. dense compaction of astrocyte processes to wall off the lesion area. Multiple candidate growth factors and inflammatory signals in the lesion environment show strong correlations with GFAP across the acute cuprizone demyelination and recovery time course, yet there is more divergence across the progression of chronic cuprizone demyelination and recovery. However, differential glial scar formation does not appear to be responsible for differential remyelination during recovery in the cuprizone model. The astrocyte phenotype and lesion characteristics in this demyelination model inform studies to identify triggers of non-remyelinating sclerosis in chronic multiple sclerosis lesions.
Keywords: astrocyte, extracellular matrix, glial scar, growth factor, multiple sclerosis
Abbreviations: BMP4, bone morphogenetic protein 4; CNS, central nervous system; CSPG, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan; Ct, threshold cycle; Cy3, indocarbocyanine; FGF2, fibroblast growth factor 2; Fn1, fibronectin; GAG, glycosaminoglycan; GFAP, glial fibrillary acidic protein; Glu1, glutamine synthetase; IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor 1; IL-1β, interleukin 1β; Itgam, integrin alpha M; LIF, leukaemia inhibitory factor; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; MCAO, middle cerebral artery occlusion; MOG, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein; Nes, nestin; PFA, paraformaldehyde; Plp1, proteolipid protein; Ptprz1, phosphacan; QPCR, quantitative PCR; TGFβ, transforming growth factor β; TnC, tenascin C; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α; Vim, vimentin