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Glial fibrillary acidic protein isoform expression in plaque related astrogliosis in Alzheimer’s disease

Publication year 2014
Published in Neurobiology of Aging
Authors W. Kamphuis, J.A. Sluijs, E.M. Hol, Jinte Middeldorp, Lieneke Kooijman, Evert-Jan Kooi, Martina Moeton, Michel Freriks, Mark R Mizee,

In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyloid plaques are surrounded by reactive astrocytes with an increased expression of intermediate filaments including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Different GFAP isoforms have been identified that are differentially expressed by specific subpopulations of astrocytes and that impose different properties to the intermediate filament network. We studied transcript levels and protein expression patterns of all known GFAP isoforms in human hippocampal AD tissue at different stages of the disease. Ten different transcripts for GFAP isoforms were detected at different abundancies. Transcript levels of most isoforms increased with AD progression. GFAPδ-immunopositive astrocytes were observed in subgranular zone, hilus, and stratum-lacunosum-moleculare. GFAPδ-positive cells also stained for GFAPα. In AD donors, astrocytes near plaques displayed increased staining of both GFAPα and GFAPδ. The reading-frame-shifted isoform, GFAP(+1), staining was confined to a subset of astrocytes with long processes, and their number increased in the course of AD. In conclusion, the various GFAP isoforms show differential transcript levels and are upregulated in a concerted manner in AD. The GFAP(+1) isoform defines a unique subset of astrocytes, with numbers increasing with AD progression. These data indicate the need for future exploration of underlying mechanisms concerning the functions of GFAPδ and GFAP(+1) isoforms in astrocytes and their possible role in AD pathology.

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