Astrocytes are the most abundant cell type in the brain and they make close contacts with neurons and blood vessels. They respond dynamically to various environmental stimuli and change their morphological and functional properties. Both physiological and pathological stimuli can induce versatile changes in astrocytes, as this phenomenon is referred to as 'astrocytic plasticity'. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of astrocytic plasticity in response to various stimuli remain elusive, except for the presence of hypertrophy, a conspicuous structural change which is frequently observed in activated or reactive astrocytes. Here, we investigated differential characteristics of astrocytic plasticity in a stimulus-dependent manner. Strikingly, a stab wound brain injury lead to hypertrophy of astrocytes accompanied by increased GABA expression and tonic GABA release in mouse CA1 hippocampus. In contrast, the mice experiencing enriched environment exhibited astrocytic hypertrophy with enhanced proBDNF immunoreactivity but without GABA signal. Based on the results, we define proBDNF-positive/GABA-negative hypertrophic astrocytes as 'active' astrocytes and GABA-positive hypertrophic astrocytes as 'reactive' astrocytes, respectively. We propose for the first time that astrocytic proBDNF can be a bona fide molecular marker of the active astrocytes, which are distinct from the reactive astrocytes which show hypertrophy but with aberrant GABA.
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor precursor
- Cell Plasticity
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience